What makes a great leader? It has something to do with a unique ability to see the world outside of yourself — to seek feedback, collaborate with those around you and see the bigger picture. Molly Reynolds is a great leader — we first met Molly when Bespoken co-founder Leah Bonvissuto directed a reading of her musical in NYMF. She is sharp, super smart, and a truly genuine voice. We were thrilled to contribute our tips on how great leaders own the room to this article Molly wrote on Inc.com. Here’s our tips for beating nerves and owning the room when speaking in public:
Do some self-sleuthing
Identify what makes your leadership style unique and acknowledge what throws you off your game: are you confident in front of large crowds, but shrink in front of smaller groups? Dissect negative past experiences as well as positive ones–take notes, dig for clues and seek feedback from trusted sources.
Embrace your #onlyness
What is that thing that only you can bring to the table? Flesh out not only why you do what you do, but also what you do differently than anyone else. Create a shortlist of words to pull from on-the-go that authentically represent your vision.
Find your voice
Anyone can learn to speak powerfully and purposefully–actors have been practicing how to speak with clarity and distinction for thousands of years. Take a class or work with a coach to learn how to be open and responsive, especially when the stakes are high.
Go back to your roots
Combat nerves in the moment by breathing deep and focusing on the physical–especially your feet. Your shoes should make you feel grounded. If those ballet flats aren’t making you feel powerful it might be time for some retail market research!
Seek out opportunities to practice being uncomfortable–think of it as a muscle. Rehearse your speech while maintaining direct eye contact with a trusted friend. It may feel scary at first (so start small and in a safe environment!) but with practice and patience you can improve your discomfort tolerance.
And speaking of practice…
If you only run through it in hushed tones in your office, imagine how different it will feel when you need to fill that 500-seat hall. Seize any opportunity to practice full out (or in the actual space if possible) to minimize the unexpected and unfamiliar.
Keep it conversational
No one can follow your lead if they don’t know where you’re going. Establish communication that is direct, clear and compassionate. Even presentations can be framed in a conversational tone.
Seek feedback constantly
Understand the impression you’re making. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Asking “Is that clear?” for example, will show that you are open and proactive, and it will make your team feel validated and heard.
Connect with your audience
Picture someone who will be in the room and think: How do I want to make them feel? The simple act of putting yourself in their shoes takes you out of your own head and into the space around you, helping you form more meaningful connections.
A matter of time
Owning the room doesn’t come easy or overnight. Be patient with yourself and practice in a safe space to build your confidence before venturing into the outside world.