The ability to speak publicly, confidently and convincingly is an absolute must when it comes to business presenting. Sales presentations are performances. While you may not see yourself as being a natural performer, you must become one the moment you stand up to present your business case.
Ideally, your sales presentations should influence and persuade audience members to take action. Here are four questions and answers that should help you better understand the process of business presenting and public speaking thus strengthening your future sales presentations.
What’s behind stage nerves?
Your brain cannot tell the difference between you being chased by a wild animal and performing on stage. It simply knows that you’re feeling uncomfortable and prompts a basic system designed to get you out of danger. Essentially, your body’s inbuilt fight or flight defence mechanism is inappropriately triggered.
Why’s this a problem?
A side effect of this fight or flight reaction is rapid, shallow breathing, which clearly impacts voice quality. A high quality voice depends on air being expelled from the lungs at (near) constant pressure. When your own ears hear your less-than-perfect voice, your brain decodes the signal, concludes that you don’t sound happy and further reinforces the inappropriate fight or flight reaction. You’re in a dangerous, downwards spiral.
What’s the solution?
Effective public speaking essentially comes down to well-controlled breathing. Knowing, understanding and controlling the air in your lungs will dramatically improve your ability to speak well in public.
Breathing is an unusual bodily function in that you can either choose to exercise a high degree of control over it, or leave it completely on autopilot. How often are you actually aware that you’re breathing? For most of the time, you simply breathe instinctively. Taking assertive, positive control over your breathing is the only sure way to control your nerves and avoid the downwards spiral (outlined above) when performing your sales presentations.
What’s the best technique?
Good breath management stems from diaphragmatic breathing. If you’re unsure of how to do this, simply lie on the floor, supporting your head with a cushion or thick book. Breathe normally. Observe your tummy rising as you breathe in and dropping as you breathe out. When you’re standing up, there is a tendency to let your shoulders take over breathing. Remember: when you breathe in your tummy should go out and your shoulders remain still. If you breathe in deeply, your ribcage will expand and your chest will rise.
Confident and convincing voice projection becomes a lot easier when there is sufficient air in your lungs. Practice this simple breathing technique until it becomes second nature and your public speaking will become easier, your business presenting will improve and your sales presentations will be more like performances.