I am not saying that I am the best at public speaking or that I am an amazing speaker with nothing to work on; I talk to fast and I have a tendency to mix up my words….BUT I don’t feel nervous when speaking in front of people. I credit my mild insanity and years of public speaking experience when I was a child clown in Korea for this bulletproof heart of mine.
Anyway, here are some tips I would like to share. Because if you’re 30+, you should be able to pull off public speaking without peeing your pants.
Know that people are rooting for you
99% of people HATE public speaking. When you see your audience, remember that they’re just thankful that they’re not in your position. Everyone want you to be successful up there. They feel bad when you mess up or seem nervous, and they are cheering you on (secretly) when you look ready and relaxed.
Keep it short
When in doubt, keep it short. Get to the point right away. Nothing is worse than an awkward speech that goes on forever.
Choose three people
One person to your left, one person sitting in center, and one person on your right — these are your key people to look at when speaking to a group of people. Make eye contacts with them (left-center-right [repeat]). Don’t do it too intensely though; they don’t know that they’ve been chosen and might call HR and report you for making sexual advance during a presentation. If you already do this well, try to look at two more people — one sitting all the way in the back and one sitting right in front of you. Fluid and varied eye contact makes you look confident and less creepy.
Don’t try to be funny — unless you are
Are you naturally funny? No? Then, stop trying. I’m sorry but people cringe when you make a non-funny joke and expect the audience to laugh with you. You know what works every time? Being genuine. If you can be funny, great. Make those jokes and win people over, but if you can’t pull it off, it’s totally fine. Be serious and sincere. That’s almost as good as being funny.
Write it down
Most people think that people who are good at public speaking are just naturally talented and can “wing it” but the truth is those people write drafts and practice way beforehand. I love having a written note (at least an outline) of my speech in my hand while speaking! Most of the time, I’ve practiced it so much that I end up not really looking at it, but in case I forget something, I have it right there.
There’s nothing unprofessional or unsexy about reading off of something; it actually shows that you prepared! Read what you wrote down. Just remember to make eye contact every minute or so.
Be louder and slower than you’re used to
Even if you have a microphone, project your voice more than you feel comfortable. If you identify as a “shy” person, you probably speak wayyyy too softly. Loud voice exudes confidence. Plus if people can’t hear you well, they will tune you out, so speak up! Also, (this is something I really need to work on), slowwww down. Again, it’s about helping people understand what you’re saying.
Even if you have the most awesome script and visual aids, you will be surprised to realize how different it feels when you get up in front of people and actually start talking. Make the rehearsal as similar as possible to the real thing. Will you be holding a mic? Grab your cell phone and pretend. Will you be standing? Practice on your feet. Will you be on stage? In a small room? Wearing heels? Try to create the same environment/situation and READ IT OUT LOUD.
I mean, seriously, if this idiot can do it…so can you.
Okay, sorry for all the unnecessary Trump gifs. Here’s Sanders to cleanse your eyes.
Indeed it is. So is the progress you can make to become a better public speaker!