We all fear speaking in front of people. Some of us are just better at squashing those anxieties — probably by not following flimsy advice like, "Imagine everyone in the room naked." Instead, they prepare thoroughly and thoughtfully and learn what keeps people interested. Here's how you can, too.
Image by Kian McKellar.
If you tremble when you think of giving a speech, you're not alone. It's normal. Just thinking about it makes me shudder inside — and I've spent 18 years giving talks. Here's what I've learned over the years to bust my fear of public speaking.
Sol Orwell, co-founder of the independent nutrition and supplement research site Examine.com, shares a very detailed look into how he prepared for 26 different speaking events in 2016 and drastically improved his public speaking skills. One major tip: Instead of putting stock in the "pretend everyone is naked" cliché, he accepted that he wasn't there simply "to impress his peers". He was there to share knowledge.
It's true: When you speak, your audience doesn't necessarily know as much as you do. Relative to the audience, you are the expert. Additionally, Orwell breaks down his insight into the five key components of public speaking:
- Content: Start with this statement: "Because of my presentation, you will understand _____" (fill in the blank). This sets the stage for your presentation and helps you build robust points around it as you plan it.
- Slides: Slides should only be complementary to a point you're making, not the focus. As far as pacing, try to stick to no more than a dozen words per slide and have each visual come in one at a time. "If you spend more than 60s on a slide, you're slowing everyone down," he says. And don't forget to credit the original photographer and source.
- Before the Talk: It isn't enough to be prepared for your talk. Be prepared to deliver it. That means bringing your own laptop, clicker and presentation files via a USB drive or the Cloud. Additionally, knowing the venue, your mic setup, size of the stage, and other small details make your presentation go a lot smoother. Take a shot if you need to because... why not.
- During the Talk: The first few minutes of your talk are typically the most brutal, so Orwell recommends memorising the first five lines to get you into a comfortable groove. And while you're on stage, look for someone who's really into what you're saying. Any time you think you're losing the audience, go back to this person to collect yourself.
- After the Talk: Make it easy for people to follow up with you or get in contact. If you have the opportunity, use this chance to answer questions, cement your expertise, and connect with people.
There are many, many more gems of wisdom, so check out the link below for all 62 tips to nail your next public speaking event.