The fear of giving a public speech is still one of the top fears on any list of scary things to do. Maybe you need to give a speech at school or work or church and you are trembling in your boots. Are your palms getting sweaty just thinking about it? Fear not! I have spoken in front of groups about 5,000 times and lost very little sweat. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I felt any fear about speaking in public. Here’s my promise: you can deliver that speech with a minimum amount of fear. Here are the 7 steps.
1. Tell yourself you can do it. Absolutely assassinate the voice inside that says you are going to look like an idiot. Give the voice a new line to repeat: “I will give this speech and the outcome will be good!” This is more than trying to cling to a phony positive image. You are directing your subconscious to help you speak without fear. Write that one line out on a piece of paper and place it where you will see it through out your day.
2. Speak about something that excites you. In some cases you may be assigned a topic but you can still angle the speech in a direction that excites you. I have zero interest in why some men lose hair but if I was assigned that topic I would find an angle that grabbed my interest. (For example, I AM interested in genealogy. I could use that passion to think of my paternal ancestors that were bald. Why are some bald and others not?)
3. Educate yourself to the hilt on your subject. In this era of Google this has become incredibly simple. Read the Google returns that summarize the important facts about your subject. The goal is to become the person in the room who knows the most about your subject. When you speak, you do so knowing YOU are the expert.
4. Get a blank sheet of paper. On the top of your page write this word: “Freestyling.” Relax. Take a deep breath. Then quickly write anything and everything that comes to your mind about your subject. Pay no attention if it makes sense. Just let it fly. Capture anything and everything that pops into your mind. Take a break. Congratulate yourself. Now, look for common themes. With your pen circle common themes and draw connecting lines. Sometimes I will use different colored inks. For example, I will use red ink to connect the funny things and blue ink to connect stories.
5. Use this the information on this sheet of paper to write your speech. Start the best story on the page to grab attention. Then tell your audience why your subject is important to them. Give them the benefits of listening to the next couple of minutes. Be realistic. Only say, “This will change your life forever” if that’s a true statement. Then close with a section about what you want them to do with the information. This is very important: when you actually write PICTURE the faces of people in your audience. You are not writing an academic paper but you are writing for the ear. (Read this sentence over until you really get it.) Use short sentences with common but punchy words. For example instead of saying “compelled” say “forced.”
6. Prepare to deliver your speech by reading it over several times. Mark up your speech with helpful marks. For example, if you need to remember to give a big pause after a profound thought place marks like these right after that thought: “////.” More slashes indicate a longer pause. You might even change a word or two. Just make the changes on your typed copy; there’s no reason to retype. You might even want to use colored inks to highlight certain parts. I often circle in red my stories. Be sure to read your speech over right before you go to bed at night. If you do this your mind will work on it while you sleep. When you get up in the morning read it over again while standing in front of a mirror. A couple of times try to give your speech without looking at your notes. Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror. Become very familiar with your speech.
7. When you stand and deliver remember this: you are the expert. No one knows more about this in the room than you do. Stand tall. Right before you speak, very quietly hum a little bit to get your voice ready to roll. If you mess up just keep on going. The people in the room do not have a copy of your speech. In most instances if you keep on smiling and rolling they will never know you omitted a couple of sentences.
You absolutely can do this. Let me know how your speech goes. If you have any questions or need suggestions about your speech just let me know. So what are you going to speak about?