Tip #1 — Public Speaking is a LEARNABLE skill
When I was a young financial advisor, I presented retirement workshops and I was later told, “Your speaking skills are bad. You need to fix this problem, or else.”
That threat motivated me to look for a solution. My search led me to Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association. Those organizations taught me this key concept…
Great speakers aren’t born, they’re made. Through a series of proven structures and formats, you can gain the confidence to become an influential speaker.
Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone to master these skills?
Tip #2 — Human Beings are WIRED to be afraid of speaking
In his book, ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’ author Scott Berkun points out our earliest ancestors were faced with a basic fact — stay with the pack or risk losing your life.
The person who got separated from the pack was alone, without a weapon, out in the open, and was being watched by many pairs of eyes (of predators).
What is public speaking?
It’s standing in front of a group (or camera) alone, without a weapon, out in the open, and being watched by many pairs of eyes.
There is no scientific research to back this up, but it seems clear the survival lessons learned by our earliest ancestors have been passed down to us, although we’re not conscious of them.
When you feel scared, nervous, or intimidated, you’re carrying on a millennia-old survival response.
Fortunately, you and I have been blessed with a higher-thinking brain. It understands people want you to succeed when you speak.
How can I say this?
Good question, which leads to Tip #3…
Tip #3 — Your audience WANTS you to succeed
Think about the last time you went to an event and heard a group of speakers present. Chances are you got into your car, drove through traffic, maybe dealt with inclement weather, probably paid to park your car, waited in a line of people to enter the meeting room, and finally, sat down in your seat.
After going through all that, was the first thing you said to yourself, “I really hope the speakers are lousy. I mean, I hope they’re terrible!”
Of course not. Your time is too valuable to be wasted on bad presentations.
So is your audience’s time.
They WANT you to succeed because if you do, you’ve provided value to them.
Are you able to focus on the needs of your audience rather than worry about yourself?
Tip #4 — Nerves are GOOD
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t strive to get rid of all your nerves.
Nerves are a sign you care about doing well. That doesn’t mean you look good or get a standing ovation. Instead, you provide valuable insights or ideas for your audience.
What you don’t want is nerves to paralyze you to the point you hyperventilate, forget your presentation, or can’t function.
The goal is to manage your nerves. And there are several actions you can take to do this:
- Exercise before you speak
- Deep breathing
- Awareness of what you say to yourself before speaking
Are you doing any of these before you speak?
Tip #5 — The PROVEN method to speaking success
As important as the previous suggestions are, there is one habit more than any other which will give you the confidence and skill to be influential and impactful every time you speak…
Practice and rehearse your presentation over and over.
When I make this suggestion, I’m frequently asked, “How much?”
There is no hard-and-fast rule to this, but, to give you context, the highest paid speakers in the world practice their speeches a minimum of 100, and typically, 200 times.
I know what you may be thinking…
200 times! Are you nuts?
It depends. I might be, but it’s not about me. How committed are you to becoming a speaker who positively impacts and influences audiences, your team, or prospective clients?
100 rehearsals sound like a lot but think about any type of presentation you frequently give. You’ve presented them many times. The key is to develop a habit of intentional practice and rehearsal with specific outcomes in mind.
Employ these five ideas and your influence will increase.
If you have questions or would like additional insights to improve your presentation skills, feel free to check out SpeakingCPR.com for our complimentary resources.