Sanja began as a ballet and stage performer. Through her experience, she developed her passion for public speaking and communication by using theatrical techniques to manage stage fright and nerves, build confidence, and deliver captivating presentations of any setting. From political advisory to corporate training, Sanja works with professionals and key management across Australia. As a Speaker Coach at TEDxUniSA, Talent Academy partakes in TEDx events, training leaders and change-makers in communicating their ideas to create impact in society. Talent Academy engages in events that support professional development, innovation, and entrepreneurs as a facilitator for StartUp Adelaide as Head of Events & PR.
Talent Academy has expanded its office and developed a team of 10 facilitators and office managers across marketing, events management, charity management, and finance. Passionate about making a difference, Talent Academy manages Roma World United charity. Sanja has over ten years of experience working with Roma World United, traveling between Adelaide and Serbia to provide humanitarian aid and skills-based training to marginalized groups and see policy changes for a safer, healthier, and more stable future amongst Roma Gypsy Communities.
Talent Academy sees the value in developing the right skills to be better rather than be perfect. Taking on the stage in an unfamiliar setting and in front of an unfamiliar audience can be daunting. “So, what are some simple yet effective tips that will help you nail your next presentation?”
Here are the following tips:
1. Sell through stories
Storytelling is one of the most engaging parts of public speaking. Not everyone is a ‘natural storyteller,’ but it is a vital tool to turn content into something relevant and memorable for any audience member. “You may misinterpret storytelling as bedtime stories or a skill set only suitable in theatre or media. We like the idea that stories are around us everywhere. Marketing ads, tv, and radio shows, social engagements with friends and family, case studies presented to co-workers, pitching an idea or product to a potential client, handling conflict with colleagues or customers, delivering complex information in a way that is understandable and relatable – these are all critical opportunities for excellent storytelling skills. Storytelling doesn’t have to be bedtime stories – it can also be the key reason a client will buy from you.
Think of the most memorable story you’ve ever heard – why is it so special? Probably a combination of key ingredients, including character, segues, vocal tonality, facial expression, gesture, and overall passion. But the structure also matters. As well as timing – keeping it short and concise is important. Safe to say, there are many layers to storytelling. Getting as many of these ingredients right takes you from boring to brilliant!
One of the best ways to develop your skill set as storytellers is to harness the Improv Theatre skills. Find a local theatre school delivering coaching in improv or drama sports, and you’ll naturally find yourself learning advantageous presentation capabilities that will serve you well in storytelling. Once you’ve tried some improv theatre, use a public speaking training company to develop those skills further and learn how to put each piece together for a powerful story.”
2. Use your body
Body language experts will agree that more than half of human communication is nonverbal. In fact, some suggest there is a 7% rule – only 7% of human communication is verbal. The rest is body language and tone of voice. So it really does matter to get it right! Relationships often break down over miscommunications in both personal and professional environments. The saying – “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” is very true! Sanja added, “Be thoughtful about how you are standing, sitting, and gesturing. Consider how you approach people and greet them. Be mindful of your physical engagement and gestures when presenting on stage.”
One thing that can be guaranteed – it might not feel natural at first, especially for those who haven’t tried it before. They might feel like they’re flailing at first, or their hands are roaming randomly in the air. They might even feel like they’re ‘over-acting’ for stage presentations. More often than not, that’s actually all in their heads. People tend to be critical of their presentation skill set more than the audience will ever be.
What’s more likely to come back from the audience as feedback are: “that speaker was boring, and monotone” or “that speaker was too animated”? The first is much more common. Don’t be that person, instead be the engaging one. Sanja said, “An excellent way to get your body accustomed to moving more is to try one of the following: dance, tai chi, or telling stories to young children. All three scenarios require your body to engage, move and gesture – yep, even storytelling for children!
Keep your elbows away from your body for stage presentations. Keep your gestures within a one-meter box for camera presentations. Consider cultural implications if you are speaking to a multicultural or international audience – certain gestures mean different things in other countries.”
3. Avoid writing a fully scripted talk
Scripts help them gather their thoughts and ensure they don’t “miss anything,” but it can also become a limiting factor for a few reasons. Sanja shares the reasons as follows: “Firstly, fully scripted talks require you to look down at your paper to read it out loud. It’s also easy to lose your place in your script and then cause yourself some panic trying to find your spot again. And lastly, the paper itself can become a physical block – especially if you are holding it in your hand and happen to get nervous; guess what happens then? The paper shakes a little. Your audience might not notice, but you will. Sometimes, this can cause your body and mind to mimic ‘nervous’ habits because you wonder if the audience noticed the paper shake. And then you try to mask it. But you lost your place on the script. So you madly try to find where you were. Then you realize there’s silence, which further feeds the nervous cycle. Not a great idea!
The best speeches are drafted from a thought-out ‘guide’ or dot point palm card. A palm card can serve as a security blanket for those who need to fall back on it. It also means you won’t miss key points but without having to read entire sentences. More often than not, you know the content. If you’ve ever been to speak at an event, it’s because people recognize you as a leader in your field, or you have content to share. So believe in yourself enough to prepare dot points only, rehearse them, and get your mindset in order. Fact is, you’d likely rattle off everything you’d want to say over a drink with a friend in a pub. If you can do that unscripted, you can repeat that on stage or screen with minimal dot points. And if you’re still unsure, a public speaking coach can help you turn your full script into simple palm cards. And eventually, a flawless, scriptless, natural talk!“
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