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5 tips to making public speaking easier

Public speaking.

Just hearing those two words raises your adrenaline. On Monday, The Complete Plate was invited to pitch the concept of our book in front of an audience of 375 and a panel of 4 judges. The panel included some incredibly talented individuals including Manjit Minhas from The Dragon’s Den.

I like most people dread public speaking. However, you know your passion is legit when your desire to share your vision is stronger than your enormous fear of public speaking. I only found out I would be on the Boostr stage 6 days before the actual event. For the next 6 days I did as much research as I could to ensure I would not fall flat on my face, freeze, or be a complete bore on stage. I kept picturing if I did get the courage to make it on stage without running away, I would end up reenacting Agnes’ Mother’s Day speech from Despicable Me 2. Everything would come out monotone and I would say my three minute speech in one breath.

The other challenging aspect to my pitch was that is required me to be very vulnerable in sharing my personal story. It is hard not to get emotional when sharing such intimate details with anyone, let alone a room full of strangers. After a week of preparation, I felt so ready to go on stage that my excitement for the event almost outweighed my anxiety. I managed to get on stage, share my pitch, and make the audience laugh. I should clarify, I was able to make the audience laugh from my thoughtful comedic contributions not because I fell of my face!

I am far from an expert in Public Speaking, but here are 5 tips that I learned in preparation for this event. 1. DO NOT READ YOUR SPEECH Why? If you want to captivate your audience it needs to seem like you are having a conversation with them, it needs to feel organic. Your passion appears more authentic and genuine. Tips:

  • Write out your entire pitch and spread it out into single sentences in large font over 4 to 5 pages.

  • Spread each page in front of you. Read through the entire pitch a few times.

  • As you become comfortable go through and select key words from each sentence. Print out a new sheet with just those key words. Practice presenting your speech with just those key words.

  • Once you are comfortable get rid of the sheet and practice without anything.

  • Don’t try to memorize your speech verbatim, just memorize your key words. This allows you to elaborate as you go without missing any of your key points. However, if you memorized your speech precisely and then forget a few words you may panic and have a difficult time recovering.

2. CONSIDER A COACH & BE CONFIDENT I know it seems obvious to be confident, but some of the most valuable instruction I have ever received to build my confidence was during my media training.

If you have an upcoming speaking or media event I would encourage you to seek the wisdom and guidance of an expert. I highly recommend Christina Rowsell! She is an amazing public relations resource to have! Be sure to check out her site. I know that we never stop learning, and there is always room to grow and become more refined in any area of study, but remember in that moment you are the expert in your field. That is why you have been asked to talk. Nobody knows your project as intimately as you do. Be confident in your knowledge and experience.

3. BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY Body language is so key. When I was practicing for my pitch I filmed myself a number of times and observed a few interesting points.

When I stood up tall with my hands and arms outside of my body, and with my legs slightly spread apart it felt extremely awkward, but it looked the most natural on film. Conversely when I stood with my hands together and arms in towards my body I felt the most comfortable, but looked extremely awkward on film. It is funny I had read a few articles that said to try be as large as you can on stage. It appears that you need to treat public speaking the same as you would if you are fighting off a cougar! Another trick I heard was to stand as tall as you can. Supposedly, when you stand tall your body releases flight or fight hormones and builds your confidence. As a result, I wore the tallest heels I owned!

4. GET OVER YOUR NERVES This is definitely easier said then done, but it was the place I finally just had to get my mindset to. I realized that I was only going to get one shot at this and needed to make it count. You only get one first impression. As I was sitting backstage I avoided thinking negative thoughts about how bad it could potentially go and instead just focused on a positive internal pep talk. I encouraged myself to enjoy the journey. Who cares what the outcome would be, use this moment to practice and hone my skill of public speaking. I also came to the realization that everyone there was on my side. They wanted me to succeed and deliver a great pitch. We are always our own worst enemy.

5. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE As I mentioned before, my pitch is remarkably personal. It is difficult to share something so intimate to a room full of strangers without becoming overly emotional. I definitely did start to become emotional, but I was able to prevent myself from losing control and focus, by practicing. It helps to practice, practice, practice to the point that you almost separate the emotion from what you are saying. Your speech just become words on a page. I know that may seem spurious, but it was honestly the only way I could get through such heavy content without breaking down. Additionally, practice was key to prevent the monotone one breath mess I feared it may turn into. I was able to know where to change my tone and cadence to engage the audience. This made it feel more like a conversation.

For those of you who could not attend the sold out Boostr event, here is The Complete Plate’s pitch. I am far from an expert, and went two words over my 3 minutes, but I am very happy with how the pitch went. I honestly wouldn’t change thing. I was out of heart surgery less than two weeks, so I think the fact that I was able to be there and get up on stage is really the huge win! Enjoy! (Sorry the lighting is off)

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