CEO and change management thought leader Frits van Paasschen increases his comfort level with these four speaking techniques.
You’d think as a CEO and thought leader, one would be pretty good at public speaking—but you would be wrong.
Despite having a career in the public eye, the former CEO of Coors Brewing Company and President of Nike Europe, Frits van Paasschen (pronounced passion), never felt like “a natural” on stage.
In a recent interview on the BigSpeak Podcast, van Paasschen explained he owed his stage presence to years of careful training and practice. And it paid off in the form of a new career as a keynote speaker and thought leader on change management.
In the podcast interview, van Paasschen explained the four techniques he employs to increase his comfort level.
1) Focus on the positive
Having a positive mindset is the first step to engaging any audience. Negative thoughts will only make you anxious and distract from your performance.
Van Paasschen explained that when he goes before an audience to discuss his book The Disruptors’ Feast, he consciously puts aside any negative thoughts. He focuses on the fact that he is has practiced his presentation, checked the audio/visual equipment to verify it is working, and that he has successfully presented before.
Once his mind is focused positively, van Paasschen concentrates on making visual contact.
2) Make visual contact
It’s important to focus on individuals in the audience. Van Paasschen explained that while many people are taught to look at the audience as a whole, the key to visual contact is to look at separate individuals.
This advice may seem counterintuitive, but by looking at separate individuals you humanize the audience—it makes you feel as if you’re talking to only a few people.
3) Get a feel for the audience
Understanding the audience’s mood is important for having a successful talk. You don’t want to tell jokes to a grieving audience or go into too many details when people seem ready to move on.
Once you establish visual contact and humanize the audience, van Paasschen explains you get a feel for the audience as though they were one person—whether they’re enjoying your humor, interested in something a little bit more analytical, or want to have another story—and then adapt accordingly.
4) Practice deliberately
For lasting success, it’s important to be conscious of your speaking process. You can’t just wing it, says van Paasschen.
Before every speech, van Paasschen deliberately reminds himself to get rid of the negative thoughts before walking on stage. Then he consciously makes an effort to focus on separate individuals to humanize the audience while speaking, which helps him understand the audience’s mood.
If you follow these four techniques, you will have more successful talks and feel more comfortable on stage.
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