The moments before you speak on stage
“…..now please welcome…”
The MC says your name. You walk onstage to warm, welcoming applause.
Are you ready?
How have you spent the past half-hour prepping for that moment? Here are a few thoughts on how to maximize your chances of delivering a great speech. Consider these things before you speak on stage.
Check your props. Are they all in place? Is anything broken? Is your laptop up and running, and does your presentation remote have fresh batteries? Is everything where it needs to be for your speech?
Introduction. Does the MC have a copy of your TYPED introduction? In at least 20 pt type? Never, ever let someone wing your intro, or try to memorize a few key points. Write out EXACTLY what you want them to say about you. They are giving the audience an elevator pitch about you.
One last look in the mirror
Clothing and appearance. Check your look in a restroom mirror. Any stains or spots on your clothing? If so, now is the time to change into your backup wardrobe. Check your teeth. Any bits of spinach you may have missed? Makeup, hair, nose. (Seriously, check for hidden boogers. You can’t see them, but the front row can!) Hands clean? Fingernails looking good? Shoes…are they scuffed? Is there any gum stuck to them?
Check in with the sound technician. Does your mic have fresh batteries? I can’t stress this enough. Fresh batteries…as in brand new, never been used…are critical. Having your sound drop out because of low batteries is a speech-killer.
Be prepared to wait
Once all the mechanics are covered, prepare to wait. Events almost never run on-schedule. Maybe the CEO has a few unplanned jokes he wants to tell, or a tribute to his grandmother, the founder of the company; he just decided to give without warning. These delays are endless in number and cause. So have a plan. If there’s a backstage, grab a chair and a bottle of water. Have a book to read. Something to keep you centred and calm.
You’ve got this!
Now is not the time to go back over your script. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. You can also sit in the back with the sound tech, it’s an unobtrusive place, but you’re still in the room and ready.
Bounce on the balls of your feet.
Just before going on, jog in place for a few seconds, or do a couple of jumping jacks. If you’re in the room, go to the back and bounce up and down on the balls of your feet a few times. Anything to get your blood flowing and your breath moving. Check your fly just before you step on stage. (No, really. Trust me.)
It’s time. They are doing your intro. Now get up there and open hearts and minds.
This guest blog post was written by Kevin Burke.
Kevin Burke is the star of the USA national touring company of the Broadway play Defending the Caveman currently in a residency in Las Vegas. Kevin works with speakers and actors to help maximize the power of their speaking.
Kevin Burke has been named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year, has been starring in Defending the Caveman since 2003. As the star of the Vegas production, Kevin performed Caveman over 3,000 times, making Caveman the longest-running Broadway show in Las Vegas history. During that time, Kevin also set the Guinness World Record for “Most Theatrical Performances in 50 Days.
Kevin has appeared on Oprah, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, CBS Morning News, Bob & Tom Radio Network, and The Dr. Laura Berman Show on SiriusXM. He is one of the speaker trainers at Stage Time University.
Lisa Evans, MBA is a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, author, keynote speaker and TEDx speaker coach and improvisation actor. Based in Perth, Australia, Lisa works with leaders globally to help them craft and deliver powerful presentations and compelling business stories.