How to be a really bold public speaker
Stand up in front of the audience now and speak for 5 minutes. Did you just take in a sharp breath or did you smile at the opportunity? Was your reaction fear or excitement? If you are thinking about, ‘How to be a really bold public speaker?’, keep reading further.
Now think of the thing that you consider yourself to be really good at and imagine I throw you a difficult challenge in that work. Are you bouncing up and down, raring to go? Are you already thinking of the various ideas you would implement?
It has always amazed me how the same person can react differently to uncertain situations. Given a choice, the majority of us would rather take on the challenge than get up in front of an audience. Have you stopped to consider why that really is?
If you’re saying to yourself, “Remember what happened in the past? When I stood in front of people, it didn’t go well,” the same is also true of the work you now excel in. There were times in your work when you made mistakes, when things went wrong, when people didn’t give you the support you needed. But, you persisted, learned from the situations life threw at you, and became good at what you do.
If you’re imagining what could possibly happen when you stand in front of an audience – they don’t react favourably or say or do things that you don’t like; you’ve faced similar situations on the road to excellence. When you were challenged at your work, instead of focusing on the things that could go wrong, you focused on what you could do.
When you recall your journey of growth and apply its lessons to your public speaking, you relax into the situation. The best way to be more confident is to be more competent, and competence is built by practice and a willingness to try new things. When you try new things, you do new things. Here are some of the tips/answers to the question, ‘How to be a really bold public speaker?’
Tackling the Fear
Fear is the No. 1 reason we don’t do the things we know will ultimately bring us true happiness. Fear and anxiety are in fact negatively reinforced habits that become automatic, and it comes from consistent focus on what you are not doing well.
Whatever you focus on controls your reality. If you focus on what is negative, even if imagined, the negative feelings it generates spins in your body. And if you make a decision from this non-resourceful state, you will end up making bad decisions.
If you think about all the good decisions and bad decisions you have taken in your life, you will find that they proceeded from a certain state of mind and emotions. Recognize the difference between making a good decision when you are calm and confident as against a bad decision when you were scared or upset.
So as soon as you decide that you are going to get up in front of that audience and talk about that topic that really matters to you, focus on all the things that you are comfortable about: You’ve prepared well, you know your subject, you know your audience, you’re comfortable with the venue….
When you are finished and have stepped off the stage, take stock of everything that made you feel happy and comfortable during your speech. Start looking at what works and the more you will find it, the better you will feel. Then, identify the one or two things that you want to do even better next time.
The Illusion of Perfection
We’ve been taught at various points in our lives that things have to be in a super-specific way in order to gain another’s appreciation. So we make our way through life trying to ensure that everything we do is “perfect” the first time round. When things don’t seem to match up, we even take on the role of critic and berate ourselves.
The best way to feel good about yourself is to be a public speaker for the right reason. Talking to others about what you know is important should make you feel happy and content, instead of putting your self-worth in the hands of others you don’t even know what they’re thinking. Then you’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll have more confidence, and it will last and grow your entire life.
It’s Not About You
The purpose of public speaking is to influence the people you are talking to. If you’re focused on yourself, the knot in your stomach, how you’re standing, then you will be more apt to make mistakes and the crux of your speech will be lost.
Try talking with somebody and paying attention to every letter of every word you and the other person is saying. How much of the conversation are you able to follow? Are you adding value to the discussion? No. That sort of mind-set is what keeps you from communicating as clearly and effectively as you are when talking one-on-one.
Care about the people in the audience enough to recognize what will really add value to their lives. Realise that this is a chance for you to put good feelings in them, to make them have fun and add information to their lives that will allow them to do something.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Every great public speaker started out as a rookie. They made mistakes, they made speeches with hardly any audience, they spoke when their voices could barely be heard. But, they did it nonetheless, and with each talk, they learned what worked and what to improve.
Behind the best talks showcased on TED or any other conference is a lot of sweat. Every speaker practises his or her speech multiple times, each time getting more and more comfortable with the subject matter. Soon, the meaning behind the words seeps into the unconscious. And instead of consciously trying to remember what the next sentence is, they allow the natural flow of the speech to take over.
REMEMBER (How to be a really bold public speaker?):
- Recall your journey of excellence and apply its lessons to your public speaking
- Focus on what works
- Speak for the right reason
- Care about the value you bring to the audience
- Keep practising