What is your superpower? Mine is my ability to stand on a stage and talk. I have won awards for it. I am an accomplished public speaker. Yet I it has not always been that way. I had to learn to feel the fear and say it anyway.
Even back in school my reports said I was bright but quiet, would never put my hand up in class, even when I knew the answer. I knew to have the career I love I had to learn how to speak to people, including from the stage.
Despite knowing this I still actively avoided it. I bet you do too. Everyone feels the sweaty palms before they pick up the phone to make a client call, that familiar flop in the belly as the client calls in for their one to one or the debilitating indecision as to whether this is the right time to speak up.
Even now I still feel these things, that is normal, but here are ten top tips to help you feel the fear and say it anyway. They are just as relevant to speaking up in a meeting or standing on stage and don’t worry none of them include picturing the audience naked or on the toilet.
- Know your stuff.
Knowledge truly is power. If you know your subject matter, then you will come across more confidently and like an authority in your area. You will exude authentic confidence, which is what makes speakers charismatic.
- Know your audience.
If you know who you are talking to, then you can talk to them not at them. You can use language you know will engage and speak in a way they will not only understand but empathise with. You will also know what they want to hear and be able to deliver that. Even if you are delivering bad news, for example redundancies, you can tell them what they will need to know and they will appreciate that even if they are not happy with the decisions made.
- Know your take-away.
Knowing what one thing you need your audience to remember from this conversation will help give you confidence in knowing what ever happens you can state this and go from there. It also carries on from knowing your audience as you know why they are there.
- Know your why.
If you remember why you called this meeting, agreed to take this class or represent the team at this event, then you will be more motivated to see it through. This helps keep your attention on why the audience are there and what they need from you.
- Keep your attention in the moment.
At all times whilst you are waiting for your turn to speak, keep your attention on the other speakers etc. This will stop you from focusing on what can happen, catastrophising the event or panicking at your role.
- Keep your attention on the audience and not you.
Remember why you are speaking and keep your attention on the audience. We often forget our own fear when we focus on what others need. Use this and focus positively on what you are bringing to the table.
- Have some relevant stories
If we know our subject matter and know we can make it come alive, then we will have more faith in our ability to deliver. You know if all else fails you can go on and tell your stories. As speakers we also loose ourselves a little in the telling of stories, so it will mask your nerves.
- Remember the structure.
People can only really remember three or four things, so structure your message around 3 bullet points and the take-away. This will help you to appreciate that you know your stuff and believe in yourself to deliver.
Knowing we can deliver our message to a mirror, consistently helps us to believe in our ability to deliver the message. This will give us confidence and allow us to focus our attention away from trying to be perfect, which will only make us nervous. Remember only you know it word for word so if you say roses instead of flowers no-one but you will know.
Before you speak, look at your audience and take a breath. This will help you look confident even if you are not. Breathe before you speak and if you feel your nerves rising, pause for breath. It is such a powerful tool in your toolbox.
Remember once you begin, you will be so caught up in what you are doing, you won’t even notice you are speaking. It is just about focusing the attention and being well prepared.
I can help you feel the fear and say it anyway, the first step in your career success.