September 4th, 2014
Used to be I thought I was the only one scared of public speaking. I thought nobody could possibly be as life-or-death scared, nervous, or awkward, hiding in the bathroom with my head hanging over the toilet ready to throw up. But since I’ve made friends with my own fear, and have been helping other people with theirs, I find out that it’s quite common. I’m not alone. And neither are you.
Here’s are the bottom line mindset shifts that will make a huge difference in the way you think about speaking:
It’s YOU your audience wants.
They want themselves, really. But they want THE REAL YOU to show them a pathway to themselves.
They want you to help them make sense of their own lives by showing them how you make sense of yours.
Try these 4 simple practices that I share with my clients, and practice myself. These will help you rock the stage with confidence every time:
1) Take your time to notice the audience.
Don’t launch into speaking right away. Sometimes our nerves make us do that “Start talking and don’t stop talking until you’re done and the faster you talk the faster this will be over so let’s get on with it” thing.
So next time you take the stage, and you’ve got the mic in your hand, pause. Land. See the faces of the audience before you speak. Let yourself be seen.
Scary, yeah, but kicking off with that kind of connection will go far, and the rest of your talk will go way better. I promise.
2) Be transparent.
If you make a “mistake” or lose your place, own it. Take a breath, connect with your audience (not with the script on the roof of your brain) and give yourself some room to remember what’s next. If the words don’t present themselves, it’s ok to tell your audience what’s happening.
One of the most memorable talks I’ve heard was at a big fancy conference in Boulder last year. One of the speakers lost her place. She stopped talking and said “I have no idea what I’m supposed to say next.” Everybody cheered and laughed. (with her, not at her) She asked for a cue from her offstage assistant, found her way back into her talk, and went on with the speech. It was one of my favorite talks of the whole conference because it was so real.
We got to see her humanness. We got to see that she is not flawless.
That’s what audiences want. They want to see that you too are not perfect.
It gives the audience permission to be powerful in the face of their own imperfection, and that’s a big deal.
3) Remember that your presence is at least 50% of the talk.
We (the audience) might remember a nugget of your talk, but more likely we’ll remember that we were inspired, or challenged, or moved. We’ll remember how clearly you stood in your message, how confidently you claimed the space and how deeply you connected with me. That’s presence.
If you have great content, a lot of it will get lost if you don’t fully inhabit your body and voice while delivering it.
4) Drop everything and just talk to me.
When you’re giving your talk, the single most important thing is that you are deeply connected to your audience.
In my trainings, besides getting to the heart of your message, we do a lot of work on powerfully delivering that message—we work on vocal dynamics, body language, powerful gestures, and lots more.
When it’s time to give the talk, I tell the speakers to forget everything and talk to the audience. Trust that the work that you’ve done will be present in your body. Your body knows what to do.
5) CONNECT with the heart of your message and SPEAK IT.
Remember what you care about. Remember why this message is important. Remember your own passion. Connect with that and speak from there. If you’re connected to your own passion, we will much more likely connect with it to.
We don’t want perfection, we want your humanness.
So bring it on.
What are some ways that you stay fully present when taking the stage? Leave them in the comments below!