Aren’t you lucky! You’re the employee who has been invited to speak at a conference, participate on a panel, or chosen to deliver a keynote! Such a perfect opportunity to promote your work and display your knowledge.
What - you’re petrified and terrified at the prospect of speaking in public?
You don’t have to feel that way. Let me share a few tips to help you upgrade your game.
Read up – Read and reread your notes to make sure you know your material. Don’t try to memorize, instead familiarize yourself with the material thoroughly so that you feel at home with it. And when you read, make sure you read it aloud. Hearing it gives you a clearer sense of what works. Several re-readings help ground your ideas in your mind. Knowing that you know what you know is a big confidence booster.
Think up some questions. Anticipate the things that people in the audience are likely to ask and plan your answers. Preparation is a great antidote for nervousness.
Fill up your lungs with oxygen. Deep breathing is the source of serenity and energy. Smooth consistent breaths provide the flow that will channel that nervous excitement you feel and that nervous excitement is the fuel for the great delivery you’re going to give.
Chat up the audience. Don’t think of your speech as formal oration. Treat it as a personal conversation - just held with a lot people at the same time. Audience members are strangers, but they’re sympathetic strangers. Public speaking scares them, too. They’re rooting for you to succeed. (Spoiler alert: you
Listen up - When you’re not the speaker, be a good listener. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears since only seven percent of any communication is with the words alone. Take notes. When you attentively observe another speaker, you get real-world ideas on what works well. Plus, if you’re thoughtful and respectful when someone else is front-and-center, you generate good karma for when it’s your turn at the mic.
Live it up - Speaking and sharing your thoughts and ideas is a
good thing. Public speaking isn’t a public enemy. Actually, it’s more of a professional friend. It can get you noticed by the right people, improve your poise, showcase your skills. Enjoy the experience!
Now - show up and shine the next time you’re asked to speak.