Prayer or Meditation: If you're a believer you can pray if you are not at least take time to clear your mind and meditate. (On clearing your mind) A short prayer for God to guide you and give you the right words can't ever hurt. God has promised to give believers words even when they are under a heavy persecution; Mt 10:19. Why wouldn't he also help when there isn't any persecution? He would. Obviously you must do this before you speak. If you don't pray before you speak you might find yourself praying in the middle of your presentation for God to get you out of it as quickly as possible. Do not overlook this little gem because although it seems unimportant, it can actually be what makes or breaks your performance or presentation.
Concentrate Only On what Your Doing or Saying: Finding something to focus on in the room, the podium or in your own head is the quick road to failure. If you are concentrating on some external matter your attention is divided and everyone will see that as clearly as a red blinking light on you head. One hundred percent of your attention on your subject, your music or anything else leaves zero percent wasted on fear, faces and nerves. It also goes without saying that you should never give any attention to time. It is another great false detractor. If you're in a hurry, it shows a lack of confidence, if you go over time you must be approaching expert levels in your field. Take that as an unspoken compliment.
Ask Yourself One Single Question: Before you begin speaking ask yourself one all important question. Who in this entire audience could do or say what I am doing or saying? If you consider the answer very carefully you will always arrive at the same answer which is, few to none. When I was playing American and Irish Folk music I constantly reminded myself that I had a repertoire of about one thousand songs. I wasn't trying to feed my ego but I was reminding myself of one fact. If I were to ask my audience how many people could do one thousand songs, I would get no answers at all most of the time. When I get up to speak I am reminded of years of schooling, hours of personal preparation, scores of published articles and two published books. Ego, no, it is only the answer to the all important question. The bottom line is that since no one can say or do what you are saying or doing just get on with it. Waste no time on what anyone thinks. If they could do what you are doing they would be in the podium and you would be in the audience.
Get Emotional: If you stuff doesn't move you it won't move anyone else either. This is an immutable rule of presentation. If you are singing your interpretation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star pour yourself into it. If you are speaking about the nocturnal habits of fire ants do it with gesticulations, reverberations and tremors. Ridiculous you say, think again. One of the greatest influences in my days of performing music was a man I had never met and I never heard even one note of his music. His influence came from the remarks I heard others make about him. They all agreed that his shows were amazing because he was so overwhelmingly emotional and caught up in what he was doing. I soon discovered that when I got all wrapped up and emoted in my music that even when I thought my performance was poor the audience did not. Try it you'll like it.
Use Humor: Not everyone is good at telling jokes and humorous stories but almost everyone knows at least one or two good ones. Nothing breaks the ice quicker than humor. If you get them laughing early you have already invoked at least one basic human emotional response, provoking others will be a great deal easier from then on. Don't comb the joke books looking for the best jokes. Think of the jokes you have heard others say recently. The key is twofold. Pick a joke or humorous story that is somewhat related to what you are presenting. And do not pick jokes that you alone think are funny. Use jokes that you have seen bringing others to a belly laugh. Use humor that has worked in the public domain. Don't overdue the humor angle because people can recognize filler material very easily. The other side of the coin is not to ignore this useful tool of the trade. Laughter is a great equalizer for both audience and speaker.
Get Personal: This is far more than good advice, it is a rule that if ignored will become the difference between success and failure. I have watched skilled musicians who never once addressed their audiences. Their performance may have been impeccable but in the end met with little acclaim. I've heard speakers who know their subject forward and backward but left people yawning and fidgeting. What was missing was often if not always the personal touch. You must get a rapport going with any audience on the personal level or will get nothing else going at all. How can you do that? Take a cue from the stand up comedian or the storyteller. They ask mundane questions and they wait for someone to answer or acknowledge it with a gesture or murmur. Where are you from, any one here from New York? Hey, does it ever stop raining here in Washington. Let me see how many of you are here tonight; if you're here raise your hand. For those of you that didn't raise your hand I have a question, where the heck are you? I often started off by saying, thank you for having me here tonight and it is good to see you all here to hear my music, now get out of here every one of you. Some were shocked, some giggled some roared but all came to attention. Sound silly, it is but make no mistake, it works.
See The Crowd As Only One Person: No science is available to prove how or why this little tool works, but be assured it will never fail. Always speak to the audience as if you were talking to only one single person. It makes them feel that you are being very personal with each individual, they can feel the difference. It shrinks the crowd on a perceptional level for you. Remember that perception is often the better part of reality. It moves the entire matter to a, one on one. Who wouldn't admit that they are more comfortable talking to their neighbor or some stranger but not a whole crowd? Approach your performance or address as if you were doing just that and you will succeed.
Rev Bresciani is the leader of a non-denominational ministry in the New Orleans area. He has written many articles over the past thirty years in such periodicals as Guideposts and Catholic Digest. He is the author of two books available on Amazon.com, Alibris, Barnes and Noble and many other places. Rev Bresciani wrote, Hook Line and Sinker or What has Your Church Been Teaching You, published by PublishAmerica of Baltimore MD. He also wrote a book recently released by Xulon Press entitled An American Prophet and His Message, Questions and Answers on the Second Coming of Christ. Rev Bresciani has his own website at http://americanprophet.org