When you look for advice about public speaking you can often be overwhelmed by the number of “10 points to remember when you speaking publicly” or similar titled blogs. It’s hard to remember anything if you are feeling adrenalized and scared.
I think in order to learn public speaking in a calmer way you really need to practice away from the pressure of real presentations. Each speaker might want to practice different things but I think there is a set of core skills that’s worth practicing before you consider doing a presentation. This is the “small steps” stage before presentations that many speakers miss
The crucial stage before presenting
- Learn how the human brain gets in our way when we speak publicly.
It’s useful to understand what is going on when you stand in from of audience.
- Get comfortable at being looked at and being the centre of attention.
Sounds simple but it can be tricky for lots of people.
- Get comfortable being in front of blank faces in the audience.
Let go of those feelings of judgement. Blank faced audiences trip new speakers up big time.
- Learn to have good eye connection with the audience – one person at a time.
- Learn to taking your time rather than rushing to finish and get off. It’s your space and you don’t need to apologise for taking it.
- Learn to pause without feeling awkward.
Silences can help to slow you down and give you thinking time. And give the Audience time to take your information in. Learners can struggle with this idea but its worth pursuing
- Slow your breathing down and allow yourself just to be there. Stand in front of people without feeling the pressure to perform.
- Allow the words to emerge rather than trying to squeeze them out. Its how we speak in conversations – we trust the words to emerge and they do. But if we see public speaking as a performance and think that each word has to be crafted and honed we are putting too much pressure on ourselves. Learn to be conversational when you stand there.
- Learn to calm the fight and flight part of you.
This is done in stages and you can make big changes in the adrenaline reaction and how it feels. Working on the 9 other points will help hugely.
- Learn that your thoughts are not reall.
Number 10 takes us back to our brain. We only see 10% of the real world - the rest of it we make up. You do not need to pay attention to every thought you think. The audience, are not judging you all the time even if you are thinking that they are. Learn to let those thoughts go.
All these are fairly simple things to write but not always easy to practice. They are part of the fundamentals of being in front of people. (on the course we learn them in a different simpler way but you have to be there to understand - sorry) They are about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. So if you learn these skills first, in a safe place, before you have to do presenting you will find the whole process far more possible.