How to Slay All Day at Public Speaking

by | 3 minute read

Did you set a goal to do more pub­lic speak­ing in 2018? Is your job forc­ing you into more pre­sen­ta­tions than you're com­fort­able doing? Is your lack of speak­ing to groups stand­ing in the way of a pro­mo­tion or your prospects for mov­ing up the lad­der? The thing about a fear of pub­lic speak­ing is that every­one has it! Yes, it's true. Just hear me out!

I was read­ing an arti­cle in the Har­vard Busi­ness Review about pub­lic speak­ing fears and it all made sense. Talk­ing in front of peo­ple gives every­one a case of the jit­ters, even for those com­fort­able in the spot­light. When you put your voice out there, you are vul­ner­a­ble and that strikes nerves. And when you're talk­ing about some­thing, it's usu­al­ly a big deal – it's impor­tant. There is some­thing on the line (a lit­tle or a lot) when you open your mouth. That rat­tles any­one and every­one. But how you han­dle those nerves and make the best of the ner­vous ener­gy is what mat­ters most, even if you're sim­ply giv­ing an opin­ion or feed­back in a small group meet­ing.

HBR called upon two pro­fes­sion­als who work in the spot­light to give insights about their own pub­lic speak­ing issues. What I found extreme­ly inter­est­ing is that nei­ther stage actor Mandy Gon­za­lez nor pro­fes­sion­al speak­er Mark Bonchek has ever found a way to get rid of the fear.

But they offer some tips on how to keep it from get­ting in the way of deliv­er­ing that per­fect per­for­mance. The first two squash fear. The last three build con­fi­dence. Take a beat and focus on where your biggest issue lies: fear or con­fi­dence.

Be pre­pared.
Know your mate­r­i­al inside and out. Alle­vi­ate any fears about the for­eign tech­nol­o­gy and/or audio-visu­al para­pher­na­lia by get­ting used to it ahead of your pre­sen­ta­tion. Whether that's a day before or 5 min­utes before, just do it. Oh hey, and prac­tice. Der. You want to sound pol­ished, not breezy. Plus, your friends or co-work­ers can give you feed­back and throw out ques­tions you might get from the audi­ence so then you can prac­tice answer­ing those too. Don't just wing it because you think you're good at wing­ing it. Chances are – you're not.

Be real.
Mandy has a trick to help her be real­is­tic about her fears: When she can’t sleep before a big per­for­mance, she draws three columns on a piece of paper," the authors write. "The first col­umn has her fear. The sec­ond col­umn has the worst thing that could hap­pen if that fear came true. And the third col­umn has the best thing that could hap­pen if it came true. For exam­ple, her fear might be stum­bling onstage. The worst thing would be that some­one films it, posts it to YouTube, and it goes viral. But the best thing might be that it shows her fans every­one is human and makes mis­takes, and more peo­ple dis­cov­er her lat­est album."

Check out the HBR arti­cle for the last three con­fi­dence boost­ers!

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.