Want to master the art of Public Speaking… but you’re terrified of speaking publicly? I get it. And trust me, I’ve been there!
Use these 5 tips that helped me go from nervous and timid to a confident and memorable public speaker.
Hey Posse! What’s up? It’s Alex!
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Now I gotta say this request actually kind of surprised me a little bit. I mean yeah, I’ve been speaking publicly for years now… but to be honest, I’ve never considered myself a “pro” or a person that’s fit to be giving out advice on public speaking…
But with that said, I can DEFINITELY say that my confidence and skills have come A LONG WAY from where they once were…
So if I can do it—then ANYONE can!
Whether you’re presenting at a digital marketing event, in a boardroom meeting, giving a TED Talk to thousands of people, or giving a bridesmaid speech at your best friend’s wedding—these 5 tips will help you conquer your fear, own the stage, and absolutely captivate your audience.
Now let’s get started with tip #1…
#1 – Confidence Is Key
The number one tip for owning the stage… is literally ACTING like you own it! Bringing confidence to your speech is often times the difference between a speech that demands a standing ovation… or a totally lack-luster one…
But with that said, I also want to normalize the fact that nerves are normal! And to be honest, the nerves never really go away. The trick is not to let your nerves get the best of you… and instead, when your heart starts racing, your face gets flushed, and your hands get a little sweaty…
Learn to reframe it as what it really is—ADRENALINE surging through your body.
Which is actually a very, very, very good thing for any kind of performance, public speaking included…
This adrenaline you’re feeling is literally your secret sauce to giving a memorable speech. I mean think about it, all the speeches you remember most are the ones where the speaker is energized, passionate, excited & confident.
And they wouldn’t be able to show up like that without the adrenaline surge.
My high energy levels are the direct result of embracing the surge of adrenaline (aka nerves) and maybe a little bit of coffee, instead of fearing it and allowing it to get in my way.
Okay, now on to tip #2…
#2 – Practice, Practice, Practice
And Then Practice Some More. I cannot stress this one enough—practice your material until you know it like the back of your hand.
Practice it in front of the mirror, practice it in the shower, practice it in front of your friends & family, film yourself practicing and then rewatch it—PRACTICE.
You should know every inch of your material—inside & out.
Because here’s the thing, the more you practice—the more confident you’ll feel—and the more confident you feel, the less likely you are to be thrown off if you stumble over a word or forget a sentence. Practicing will also help to eliminate those filler words—you know the ones… “um”, “so”, “yeah”, “like”…
Now, most speeches will probably have some of these filler words because let’s face it—it’s totally subconscious and it happens. But the more you practice, the less likely you’ll need to use one of these filler words because you know exactly what needs to be said next!
And I probably don’t have to tell you that when a speech is FLOODED with filler words like this, it’s really distracting, and can even come across as unprofessional and unprepared.
So moral of the story—keep on practicing, Posse!
And building off this tip is tip #3…
#3 – Prepare Your Words
Yes! There is a difference between practicing your speech and being prepared for your speech!
And the preparation of your speech is just as important—because here’s the thing… no matter how much you practice—something is bound to come up that will throw you off your game.
A baby crying, an unstable wifi connection, someone typing on their keys while you’re trying to talk and endless other mishaps can creep up at any time… And let’s face it—no level of memorization can save you when you completely lose your train of thought.
So this is where being properly prepared really comes into play. Make sure you have really clear, easy-to-read TALKING POINTS to keep you on track.
Notice I’m not saying SCRIPT.
You never want to read directly off a long-winded, word-for-word, script when giving a presentation—mostly because this is just bad presentation skills. The audience wants you to engage and interact with them, NOT read directly off a piece of paper the whole time.
So when it comes to crafting your notes, remember to keep each one super short, concise, and easy to read at a glance. If you’ve done your due diligence, and PRACTICED a lot—then just a couple of keywords will be needed in order to remind you what each section needs to be about.
That way when something throws you off, you can quickly and discreetly glance at your notes and get right back on track without missing a beat.
This is also very important in keeping your speech on track, on time, and ORGANIZED.
Because let’s be honest—there’s nothing worse than a speaker who comes completely unprepared, rambles for an hour and a half, and doesn’t even touch on the goal their speech was supposed to accomplish.
So preparation and practice really do go hand-in-hand. Okay now on to tip #4…
#4 – Research Your Audience
Yes—BEFORE you write your speech, practice it, or prepare your notes—you first need to understand your audience and who you are speaking to. Because remember, this talk is for THEM. It’s not for you.
So you need to show up ready to meet your audience exactly where they are, give them what they want, and talk to them in a way they’ll be receptive to.
I find this is one of the most overlooked aspects of public speaking.
ALL great public speakers always make their speeches FOR the audience, instead of delivering a scripted, same-every-time speech no matter who they’re speaking to. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel for each and every speech you give, but it does mean you need to be very intentional and aware about who you’re communicating with.
Because the truth is that not all messages will work for every crowd.
Another huge aspect of this is being able to read the crowd while you’re speaking… If something isn’t resonating, or the speech isn’t going as you planned—it doesn’t mean you need to panic and throw it in as a failure. It just means you need to be fluid, flexible, and open to pivoting and redirecting to better serve what your audience is needing at the moment.
That is a vital part of being a great public speaker. Okay and now my final and favourite tip of all…
#5 – Be Yourself!
And also one of the hardest things to do, am I right?!
So many people get hung up on wanting to appear “professional” and “likeable” that they completely mask their entire personality and as a result—their speech is dry, boring, and totally unmemorable!
Remember that an audience can FEEL authenticity. The audience can FEEL when something is scripted and forced versus when something comes from your heart.
- So if you’re weird—be weird!
- If you’re funny—crack some jokes!
- If you’re nerdy—own it loudly & proudly!
Because at the end of the day… THAT’S what people are really going to remember. It won’t be your flawless speech, it won’t be how much you waved your hands in the air, it’ll be your personality and your vibe that leaves the greatest impact.
So no matter who you are… go out there—stay true, and be YOU!
Until next time, I’m Alex.
Ciao for now!
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