As you walk to the front of the room and prepare to speak, everyone’s watching you. And they’re judging you.
Win them over. Make them think you’re a captivating speaker—before you say a word. The way you carry yourself can largely determine whether people decide to listen or tune out. Follow these pointers:
Enter with intent. Stride to the podium with confidence. Walk with intent—don’t shuffle, meander or stop and start as you approach center stage.
Keep your hands free. If you’re carrying a thick binder, people will think, “Uh oh, this looks like a long speech to sit through.” If you must refer to notes, have them set on the lectern beforehand.
Take command. Once you arrive at your spot on the stage, plant both feet and balance your weight so that you stand up straight. Don’t slouch or hunch over the lectern.
Visually scan the audience. Look at a few people in each quadrant of the room. Smile or at least radiate warmth through your friendly facial expression.
Look down, then up. After you’ve silently greeted the crowd, look down for a few seconds to compose yourself. Double-check your notes. Take a few sips of water. Listen to confirm everyone’s quiet and ready to pay attention.
If you hear whispers among the audience, look at the chatterers. Maintain a pleasant demeanor but lock your eyes on them. They will get the hint and be quiet.
Begin by looking at the back row. Address your first few sentences to the folks farthest from you. This forces you to turn up the volume so your voice fills the room.