Generally, you would freeze when the audience is larger than you. When planning a presentation, begin organizing your thoughts by distinguishing between what the audience needs to know and what you would like to tell. Include information that connects with their concerns, expectations, and level of sophistication. Choose the style of speaking that seems appropriate. Here are some tips to turn yourself into a smart speaker:

  • To increase naturalness, sound conversational, use gestures, and be willing to be les than perfect.

  • To increase closeness, move away from the podium, sit at the table with a small group, and establish emotional closeness by looking relaxed.

  • To increase responsiveness, ask for feedback and encourage audience participation.

  • Use the Four Ws to structure your talk:

    1. Where are we headed? By summarizing your agenda, listeners will feel more secure and you will feel more focused.

    2. Why should we care? Let the audience know how listening to you will benefit them.

    3. What's it all about? List the points and examples you want to include in your talk, and shuffle them until a n order clicks. Outline, major headings and sub-topics.

    4. Well…? Let listeners know what they need to do to apply your message.

  • Make eye contact and reach out. If you want listeners to see you as a warm and influential speaker, follow the "rule of three." Pick three people in the audience – in the middle, right, and left of the room – focus on. They will be your landmarks as you scan the room.

Or learn the art of "nose contact." It is not necessary to look right into a listener's eye, just glance at his nose.

Use your hands to convey naturally the conviction and enthusiasm of your message. Avoid moving your arms wildly about, folding your hands over your crotch or in other embarrassing positions, and keeping your hands close to your body. Keep gestures above the waist and direct them outward for visibility and influence. Punctuate key thoughts and words using a variety of hand gestures.

  • Do a mike check. Remember, a microphone amplifies your normal voice; you do not need to shout. Some mikes are sensitive to p, b, and s sounds; say these more quietly.

A microphone picks up all sound. Beware of jewelry, pens, or of anything hitting the mike. Always assume a mike on. Otherwise, your audience may hear your private comments.

Find out in advance what kind of mike you will be using. Here are some types and the pros and cons of each.

Clip-on: usually clipped to the lapel of a jacket, this type keeps your hands free to gesture.

Stationary: fixed to the lectern and adjustable in height, this mike restricts your range of movement but not your hand gestures.

Stand-up: can be unfastened from the stand and held by hand. This restricts your movements.

The ideal mouth-to-mike distance varies. The distance from your elbow to your fingertips is good for a stationary mike, and a fist's length usually works for a hand-held one. Arrive early for a mike check and experiment.