Simple reminders that Public Speaking isn't lethal.
Standing in front of an audience could be more nervewracking than jumping into a rattlesnake den. But, as crazy as it sounds, it's likely a toss-up for many Americans. According to Remedy Health Media, up to 75% of Americans fear public speaking. If you let your fear win, it could hold you back professionally. However, you're in luck because glossophobia isn't lethal.
It starts with building confidence, strengthening communication skills, and reducing stress.
1. Create Simple Key Points
Write a framework of your speech that would make your 10th-grade English teacher proud. Use 3 to 5 key points that you can use as touchpoints on your fingers.
Point 1: index finger
Point 2: middle finger
Point 3: ring finger
2. Internalize, Don't Memorize
Unless you're a trained actor, memorized speeches sound robotic and increase your anxiety about forgetting key points. Instead, internalize the content.
It's okay to use notes or a PowerPoint with bullet points, but when you understand the nuances of your material well, if (and when) you miss something, you can easily slide it back into the speech without missing a beat.
3. Write a Strong Introduction
Often a presenter will be introduced by an MC. The MC will most likely inform the audience of the speech title and your credentials.
If there is no MC, be sure also to include who you are and your (brief) qualifications.
It’s your job to tell them:
Why are you in front of the audience?
What are you going to share with them?
Why is your presentation important?
The introduction is the roadmap that will inform the audience about the journey they are embarking on.
4. Write a Strong Conclusion
A solid conclusion offers the audience a quick recap of the main points and reminds them of who you are, why you spoke to them, and what they learned.
5. The Hook & Call to Action
Imagine fishing without a hook. It isn't easy! It's also a challenge to reel in your audience without a hook. A great hook can start with a quote, a joke, a short story, or a startling statistic.
Similarly, a great speech should tell the audience what to do with the information you shared with them. Offer a challenge that aligns with your speech's mission: a congratulatory toast, a call for donations, a reminder to live life to the fullest, or food for thought.
*These, and only these, should be memorized.
6. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Practice in front of a mirror. Practice by recording yourself on your phone or online. Practice in front of a friend or colleague. The more you practice, the more comfortable the information will feel. When you are comfortable with your content, the more relaxed you will be in front of an audience.
7. Breathe and Pause
Before walking on stage, smile and take a few slow deep breaths. Reframe your brain—it’s not anxiety; it’s energy. Remember the purpose of your presentation: The audience wants to hear from you. And hey, you could always pretend everyone is in their underwear.
8. Come on, Let Your Body Talk
Proper posture helps you feel more confident, look more confident, and act more confidently.
Assume a power pose and own the stage with your presence.
Move your hand with purpose.
Look to the room's four corners.
Look front center and back center.
If you make a mistake, pause, smile, and move on. The audience won't even know.
9. Rinse and Repeat.
Once you've given one speech, schedule to speak again somewhere else, or better yet, join a speaking club such as Toastmasters to practice your speaking regularly.
You have a vision for yourself. Now's the time to take action that aligns with your goals, and if it involves speaking in front of people, remember:
Know your stuff
Stand up straight
You. Got. This!
Alison Nissen is passionate about stories and believes everyone has a story worth sharing. As an award-winning author, blogger, podcaster, and co-founder of Revel Coach, she finds inspiration in helping others identify their purpose. Alison is an accomplished public speaker, hosts the Florida Writer Podcast and co-hosts Revel Coach's Revel Coach+ Podcast, where each week, she and her partner (and sister) interview individuals who are changing the world.