PUBLIC SPEAKING TIPS
The fear of public speaking causes so many small owners to dismiss this as a part of their marketing strategy. Stage fright itself is a common factor affecting almost every public speaker, especially when going through the process for the first few times. Follow these tips to make your performance a memorable one for all the right reasons.
Public speaking can be a great way to raise awareness of your business offering and what you can do for potential clients.
And remember, public speaking doesn’t always have to be at a big event in front of hundreds of people. By speaking about how to look after your pet at a primary school and then giving the children a leaflet and information sheet, they will take this home and chat away to their parents who may then contact you for your dog grooming services.
I did a talk years ago about colour psychology to an art group. I left them all with a fact sheet branded with my company details which helped raise awareness to their parents of my property staging company.
Public speaking can also be done at local networking events where you just have a short five-minute slot, speaking at a college or W.I. or when you feel braver, moving on to guest slots at trade shows and conventions.
How to overcome the fear of public speaking
Firstly, accept the fear and allow it to pass. Even the professionals still suffer and it is important to understand the fear will go away as long as you understand how it affects you and what steps you can take to overcome it.
Preparation is the key. Always be prepared ahead of time, since trying to cram information together at the last minute is one of the contributing factors to that feeling of panic. Practice your speech in front of friends or family or video yourself and then play it back.
Before stepping out in front of your audience, do some gentle breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and help you gain composure.
When we are nervous we tend to talk too quickly which uses up oxygen needed by our brain which in turns confuses our thinking. So slow down. Your audience will appreciate your slower speech also and pauses as this allows them the time to absorb the information you are giving them and remember it for the future.
You don’t want to have your head down reading word by word from a script but having prompter cards provides a comfort blanket should you lose your train of thought.
These cards don’t necessarily need to be words but could be images that act as reminders of what you want to say.
Not enough importance is put on this by many speakers but if you feel uncomfortable in what you are wearing, this will be a major distraction for you and will come across in how you look in front of your audience.
I have had to stand for three hours giving a presentation where I had the wrong type of shoes on and my feet were killing me. I was uncomfortable and shuffled from one foot to the other to try and gain relief. This made me tense and I know I didn’t give my best performance. I should have taken a leaf out of the book of a lady I once saw on stage who suddenly stopped mid flow to announce her Spanks were killing her and so she ducked behind the curtain and whipped them off. This caused huge amusement in the audience and she returned to howls of laughter and cheers of approval from her being so honest.
Keep your humour
As in the point above, being human and keeping a sense of humour can see you through some of the most difficult moments. Be honest with your audience. Admit your fear to them and tell them all the things you would rather be doing. I can guarantee that unless you have the harshest of audiences, they will sympathise with you and give you all the encouragement they can.
Keep things in perspective
Even if it all goes wrong (which is highly unlikely), the world will keep turning and your business is not going to close down overnight because of one poor speech. Ask the organiser to send out an email on your behalf after the event thanking the audience for their patience and with a few points that you may have missed on the day.
Treat it as a learning curve. You will now know which parts you need to work on to make your next public speaking slot better than the last. And do go out and do another one.
The more you do, the (slightly) easier it becomes and you may just find that your fear of public speaking becomes a thing of the past.