When professionals talk about being a thought leader and a person of influence, public speaking is definitely part of the conversation. Getting in front of an audience and sharing your story and expertise is a powerful way of demonstrating thought leadership and building a connection with people.
There’s no greater privilege than taking the lessons I have learned along the way to a wider audience. Personally I enjoy public speaking and I am fortunate to have been a guest speaker on stages around the world. But for most people the idea of speaking in front of others is terrifying.
If one of your resolutions this year is to face down your fear of public speaking here’s what I suggest:
Before you even have a speaking gig lined up, prepare a presentation and practice. Practice in front of the mirror, in front of your family and friends, your dog, it doesn’t matter – the more you practice the easier it gets. It’s also an idea to film yourself practicing so you can improve your body language and visual presenting style.
Pitch yourself to speak at events that have small audiences. This won’t be as daunting as speaking to a full auditorium. It might be your local business chamber networking night, a CWA group or even a small group of your own clients.
Just say yes
Be brave and say yes to whatever speaking opportunities you are offered (as long as they are relevant). Offer to speak for free and get as much experience as possible so you can refine your public speaking skills and overcome your fear.
Memorize your presentation
The more you know your content, the less likely you’ll blank when the nerves kick in. This will also save you if you get a question from the audience that side tracks your presentation so you can easily get back on topic.
To combat the adrenaline rush of speaking that feeds the fear and also causes you to speak at a thousand miles an hour, take the time before and throughout your presentation to breathe. This will help you to calm down, soothe your racing heart and refocus on your presentation.
Work with a vocal coach
My vocal coach, Lisa Lockland-Bell says the secret to an expressive voice is to move straight from the breath into the sound without a gap of self doubt or manipulation. With over 20 years of international coaching experience, Lisa has provided me with insightful and practical support to enhance my public speaking. I highly recommend finding an experienced coach to help you do the same.
Don’t let fear stop you from achieving your dreams. If 2019 is the year you want to start public speaking be brave and get out there.
Take a look at one of my past speaking gigs below to get an idea of how I approach public speaking. Remember, there’s never a perfect style and you will find you will continually evolve and improve how you present – BUT, you need to get started first!