I would not rather die than speak in public

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I would not rather die than speak in public

Are you one of the 95% (65%? 98%? 81%? Or whatever percent) of people who would rather DIE than speak in public? Come now. That’s crazy talk. Honestly? I used to be one of you. And I’m here to tell ya, if I can stand up in front of groups of five to 100, you can too. Doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous. Doesn’t mean I don’t dream about what I’m going to say for the entire week before. But I have learned tricks over the years.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Be an expert on what you’re going to talk about. Or at least as expert as possible. If you’ve been asked to speak in public about something, it’s no doubt assumed that you know more about the topic than the audience does.
  • Know what you’re going to say. Write it out – whether it’s an essay or bullet points or flash cards. Whatever works for you.
  • Practice saying it. Say it to the washing machine in the basement or your dog (the dog will love it; the washing machine won’t care).
  • Practice saying it when you’re driving the car.
  • Practice saying it when you’re jogging.
  • Get input from someone you trust: spouse, close work colleague, best friend.
  • If you have to use audio-visual, practice at least once with it.
  • On the day you are speaking, look good so you’re not thinking, “Arghh! They’re all looking the the coffee stain on my shirt!”
  • Breath in and breath out. Remember, you know more than they do. Imagine the butterflies in your stomach flying in formation instead of in some mad Terantella.
  • Speak. Slowly.  Clearly. And with as much of your personality shining through as possible.

And I’ll let you know how my next image and professional development presentation goes next Tuesday. I’ll let you know what went right – and what I can do differently the next time.