You have the privilege to speak in front of an audience.
That means you have a chance to positively impact others’ thoughts or emotions, improve your reputation, profile or authority and it’s a great way to get a step ahead.
On the other hand . . . you have to speak in front of an audience.
If you are like most people that means nervousness, sleepless nights, and tachycardia (palpitations for some).
I’ve heard many professional speakers say, “People’s greatest fear is the fear of public speaking, that means they’d rather be dead then speak in front of a group!” It’s usually good for a laugh but I believe the fear people experience is really worry about potentially making a fool of themselves.
To help you manage some of that ‘worry,’ here are 5 tips to prevent you from making a fool of yourself:
Let’s start with the Don’ts
1. Don’t Memorize
Some people falsely believe that in order to not make a fool of themselves, they need to memorize their speech. It seems somewhat logical however what happens when you memorize your speech is you are ‘in your head’ for the speech and not present for the audience. When I first started speaking, I memorized my speeches. The feedback I received was, “We just heard ‘Speaker Barb,’ we want to connect with the real Barb.”
When you memorize your speech, you are constantly trying to remember your next line. This takes you out of the moment and prevents audience connection.
2. Don’t Read
Reading your speech is similar to memorizing your speech but it involves powerpoint slides. I’m referring to those slides that have countless bullet points and the speaker thinks, as an audience member, you can’t read so they decide to read every bullet point and … well that’s all they do, is read the bullet points. You know the result of that = boring and no audience connection. Speaking is connecting with the audience, showing your personality and bringing life to the content.
3. Don’t Worry
Mark Twain says, “There are two types of speakers – those who get nervous and those who are liars.” Don’t worry about your nervousness – everyone has it. One of the main reasons people get nervous about speaking in front of a group is because they care about the message they are giving and they care about the audience receiving value.
I like to take a page from Bruce Springsteen’s playbook and re-label my nervousness as excitement – you have to admit they feel really similar. Instead of saying to myself “I’m so nervous,” I say “I’m excited to do this.” And it helps!
Now for the Do’s
4. Practice, Practice …
And then practice some more. I can’t tell you how many people think they can ‘wing it’ and it turns out . . . they can’t. To be a good effective speaker, you have to practice. Other than a few chosen few (and I don’t know any of them), professional speakers and people who want to positively impact an audience practice their speeches and talks. Here’s the most important point, they practice out loud, not just in their head. We all sound really good in our heads however when we begin to speak out loud, we aren’t nearly as good as we thought we were. That means practice out loud.
Practicing out loud also lets you focus in on your timing. As you practice your speech, mark down the times of where you need to be at 10 minutes, 20 minutes etc. This prevents the slow start and accelerated ending speakers do when they realize they are way behind time.
5. Do Be You
There are a lot of great public speakers you may want to mimic … but don’t. Learn from watching and listening to these speakers but don’t try to impersonate them or be like them. Develop your own style, the style that let’s you be you. The audience want to connect to you. In order to develop your own style, learn something about yourself or your style each time you speak – what worked, what didn’t work? Take time to reflect on how you can be better.
And one bonus suggestion . . .
6. Find Friendly Faces
I know you’ve seen the person yawning in the audience and worried your content was too dry. Early on in my speaking career, I got focused on someone who looked really defensive in one of my presentations (arms/legs crossed, frowning). I was convinced she hated what I was saying. At the end of the presentation she approached me and I thought, “Oh no, here it comes,” but instead she said, “That was a really good presentation!” I was so surprised. I actually said, “Really? I thought you hated it.” She said, “No, I was just thinking and I always sit with my arms and legs crossed.” Go figure.
Find friendly faces in your audience – those people who nod, smile and ‘lean in’ to your presentation. Focus on those folks. They are the ones that will calm your nerves.
Put these five tips (+ 1 bonus tip) to use and your fear of public speaking will be a distant memory. Ok, maybe not a distant memory but rather a memory you are distancing yourself from – how’s that for a re-phrase?
Learn, Laugh, Share
Barb Langlois RN, BSN, MSN
All Pro Advanced Toastmasters
We would love to share Toastmasters with you!
Come as a guest to the next Vancore Toastmasters Meeting!
When: Every Wednesday at 3 PM
Location: 8th Floor – 889 W. Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
Send inquiries to: email@example.com
Vancore Toastmasters club changes venue occasionally when our usual venue is not available. If you’re a guest and not on our weekly member e-mail list, check our website for updates or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the venue.
For our May 24th meeting, we convened at a private meeting room on the roof top of 745 Thurlow. We were treated to a gorgeous view of the city! Our beautiful location inspired meeting attendees to step out of their comfort zones. We saw several new members take on meeting roles for the first time and a seasoned member deliver a spontaneous speech on her experience using Toastmasters to rehearse her public talk.
We love having fun at Vancore Toastmasters! Stay tuned for announcement of our upcoming club social at the rooftop venue this summer.
Wednesday at 3 PM
We’re back at 8th floor – 889 W. Pender Street!
See you there!
At our April 5th meeting, three speech slots became available due to a cancellation of a prepared speech. To fill the agenda, the chairperson put out a challenge to anyone at the meeting to volunteer for an impromptu speech.
Not one, but three people put up their hand! A record at Vancore! As the meeting progressed, each speaker had 10-20 minutes to think about their speech before being called up. Ben, a brand new member, spoke about alternative energy. Connie, a seasoned member, spoke about nuclear energy. Shan, a first-time guest, spoke about what it means to be an introvert. What made them successful was speaking from their hearts on subjects that matter to them. Kudos to all the speakers for stepping up and displaying their courage!
Watch the short training video below on how to deliver an impromptu speech. The impromptu speakers at the Vancore meeting employed many of the techniques and tips discussed.
Vancore meetings provide a supportive environment for members and guests at various levels of their speaking journey. Come to a Vancore meeting and practice what you learned. Practice makes perfect!
When: Wednesday at 3 pm
889 W. Pender Street, 8th floor
Watch this 5 minute Video to Job Interview Tips
Here’s a brief summary of what you’ll learn:
- Know your values and interests. Understand where you best fit in.
- Know your resume. Think through your examples in advance.
- Use a strong voice and commit to your answers. Use your voice to display your passion and how serious and committed you are for your job.
- Let your body language to speak well of you, and help you appear confident and competent.
- Stop, listen and then respond. Use examples to demonstrate the skills you’re describing.
Always keep your answers and demeanor positive.
When you consistently practice these communication skills, you’ll confidently go into job interviews ready to shine. How to do this? Vancore Toastmasters Meetings gives you a supportive environment to practice, receive feedback and improve. Come to the next meeting this Wednesday at 3 pm and we’ll show you how. Guests are welcome!