Pete Lead is BlueChilli’s Accelerator Manager who ensures our founders are fully prepared to flourish after their accelerator program has finished. Pete has more than 20 years experience delivering training on improvised comedy, theatre, presentation and communication skills, and business leadership.
He has performed comedy shows in Australia, USA and Canada.
Public speaking and presenting is one of the biggest fears many people have. After years of experience and research, we’ve broken down our top tips to help you become a more effective speaker, more quickly.
A team at Science of People investigated what makes a TED Talk go viral, by having hundreds of volunteers go through experiments with the 2010 videos. The results are fascinating:
- People rated speakers comparably on charisma, intelligence, and credibility whether they watched the video with the sound on or the sound off.
- The more hand gestures, the more the speaker was seen as charismatic. And there was a correlation between the number of hand gestures of the speaker and the number of views the video had accumulated.
- Smiling makes you look smarter and more credible.
- Viewers formed an opinion of the above factors in the first 7 seconds.
Are these worth remembering anytime you want to be seen as charismatic, intelligent and credible? Absolutely.
But when you’re about to make an important presentation you don’t want to be thinking “hand gesture, be more charismatic, hand gesture, smile, hand gesture.” You don’t want to look like you’re following some poorly-practised internal choreography.
So after twenty years of stage performance and public speaking, here’s my shortcut to speaking superpowers in two words:
It’s not an acronym. I mean literally, Texas. The Old West. Gunslingers. Showdowns at High Noon.
Imagine you’re a gunslinger, a stranger in town. You walk through the saloon doors. The music stops. All eyes turn to you. Everybody is watching, waiting, sizing you up. If you look nervous you won’t last long in this town. How do you project confidence?
Stand, Swagger, and Draw.
- Plant your feet. You want to be standing on a strong foundation, not shifting around or dancing your weight left and right.
- Put your chest out. Stand tall, look big, and open up your airways.
- Head firm and level. A still head shows confidence and high status.
- Eye contact. Let them know you see them and you’re not afraid to look them in the eye.
It’s all about attitude. You have the situation under control. You belong here. You’ve got this.
Take a deep breath. And then…
Get those hands up and out. My rule is that within the first 10 seconds you want to get your hands above your elbows.
When you gesture, let your arms move out and away from your body. Take up space.
If you take a confident posture, with confident gestures, you will feel more confident. This relates to Amy Cuddy’s research on power poses which she demonstrated during her popular TedTalk, Body Language Shapes Who You Are.
The more confident you feel, the more open your body language will become – which will make you appear confident, and charismatic and intelligent and credible.
Now, before I ride off into the sunset, a word of advice – It might feel like you’re doing too much, and that’s ok. Over three years’ worth of running “Think Texas” workshops, I consistently hear that everyone thinks they’re doing too much. The feedback from the audience watching is always “no, you could do more”.
So go big, and if you’re really concerned, ask someone to watch you and give you feedback. Or video yourself and watch the first 7 seconds.
So the next time you’re in front of an important client, or pitching to investors, or making a big speech, and your palms are sweating and your stomach is churning… just smile and Think Texas.