Within my job it is a daily occurrence that I have to speak or communicate to a group of people. It maybe face to face or over conference line or even sending out an mass email.
I got asked by a friend quite recently on how I cope with public speaking; she asked for any tips that I could pass on to her which would help in a presentation that she has coming up.
Most people that meet me think I am bubbly, outgoing and that my nerves and confidence have never failed me. There was a time that this was so far from the truth.
Public speaking didn't come naturally to me, I found I could stutter, go red and sometimes forget what I was trying to say, which would cause me to babble, babble, babble along; until I was on a topic that I never intended to talk about.
Over the years I have come up with my own tips that have helped me over come, what I used to think were, quite scary experiences.
PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE
I cannot stress the importance of preparing. It could be for an interview, for an up and coming presentation, for speaking in class - any situation you feel anxious about it becomes so much easier when you prepare.
Do your research. This could be on the internet, reading books, speaking to people that have experience in a similar area. I always find the more I understand the situation the better I feel about it. A great person to watch and take some tips from regarding public speaking is Obama, he is an amazing public speaker. His body language, his eye contact, his tone of voice, everything - This is what I want my public speaking to one day be like.
Take Notes. Into most environments you can have notes in front of you, this may not be the case if you are in a play, for example. Remember though your notes, are just notes. Keep them short and sweet, you could even use flash cards with some key words on - these are a great idea if you are making a speech or presenting.
When I first started to present I used to write lengths of notes which I would end up reading from line to line. This isn't the best when you are standing in front of people. This brings me onto my next tip ...
Rehearse. If you are going into a interview, practice some interview questions. If you can, it is great to practice with someone that can offer structured feed back. Remember, if you have an interview you can ask your interviewer prior to meeting what type of interview it will be, exam based, question based, even role play - they may not give you masses of detail but at least you can get some rehearsing under your belt. If you are public speaking, stand up and speak out loud - if no one is around to listen to you and offer feedback; try filming yourself, this way you can pick up where you maybe rushing, if you need to give more eye contact or any little things you want to improve on - you will always be your worst critic, make notes of what you want to improve on and try again.
If I am practicing a new presentation, I will give myself a set amount of time per slide and aim to speak for that amount of time - I do this as I find I can rush through and easily make a 30 minute presentation last 5 minutes.
If when your rehearsing you can feel your self getting stressed or worked up, have a break for a little while, go for a walk, have a bath, anything to stop you stressing.
Breathe, relax and don't beat your self up.
Plan the big day. Personally, if I am travelling somewhere or it is away from my daily routine i.e. not at work, I will make a quick time frame of the day. This way you will always have the time you need to get ready and get to the venue; this will reduce stress on the big day. If it is somewhere you have never been you may want to do a practice run, so you don't get lost. If I am standing up in front of an audience or going to an interview, it is important to me that I feel good, I will plan my outfit the day before and ensure that my tights don't have ladders, my shirt doesn't have a stain and I am going to feel a million dollars.
Finally, The night before - don't stress. Do what makes you relax. In my case, I might have a bath with candles then get into bed with a good book. Make sure that you get a good amount of sleep so you feel on top of your game.
When it comes down to it, we are all human, we all make mistakes and we all have things that we dislike and feel uncomfortable about. You will be amazed at the amount of people I speak to that are terrified when speaking in public but to watch and listen to them, you would never know.
take your time, give eye contact (but try not to stare at one person), prepare and SMILE!
If you need any advice around what this blog covers please post below, I will be happy to help.
Also, if you have a really handy tip please post below.
Love Love Love