How many of you hate public speaking? I remember as a kid my dad enrolled me in Toastmasters. I hated the programme. I wasn't a social kid so going to the meetings was torture, and to be honest, I didn't really learn much from going to them.
I didn't actually get good at public speaking until the beginning of my senior year in college. I was working on a research project with a team. We each had to take turns presenting the information at an on campus research symposium. I was so nervous. I watched my classmates fumble and forget parts, but when it was my turn, something about it just came natural to me. And my professor noticed. She was so impressed by my performance she made me give the same presentation about 3 more times in her classes to her students before administering surveys to gather more information. I say made because she was one of those professors you just couldn't say no to.
After that I never had a problem speaking publicly again. But that doesn't mean that I don't still get nervous. I recently gave my final presentation for my graduate degree (that's right, I graduated, woohoo!) and I had the worst anxiety leading up to it. So today I'm sharing my tips and tricks for speaking and presenting confidently. It's okay to feel nervous before public speaking, but there are some really easy things you can do to move past that nervous feeling and rock that presentation!
1. You'll do a better job if you actually care about what you're talking about
I think one of the reasons I did so well back in college was because I cared about the information. It was a project I was emotionally invested in and I love psychology. I find it easy to talk to others about mental health and disorders, because I'm passionate about the topic. If you love what you're talking about, it'll be easier to talk about it.
2. Know what you need to say
Memorise the material as much as you can. Nothing is worse than constantly having to refer to your notes when speaking. If you want to speak and present confidently, you have to know the material. Be prepared for a Q&A if time allows.
3. Practice really does make perfect
No one knocks it out of the park the first time, so keep practising. If you can, use friends and family as your practise audience. That way, you can get feedback on how to improve before the real thing.
4. Dress confidently
It definitely puts a pep in my step when I know I look good. I exude a level of confidence when I'm wearing something pretty. If I'm nervous about doing something new or speaking I plan an eye-catching outfit. First impressions are critical so if I look like I know what I'm talking about, it tends to make me feel more confident and capable.
5. Get to know your audience
If you are booked to speak at an event, always get the logistics of the audience before preparing your speech. You don't want to give a speech tailored for middle-aged adults to a room full of teenagers. I've seen this happen to many people. They think they can use the same powerpoint for everyone because it's the same topic, but the powerpoint ends up being way too long for the alotted time frame or simply out of touch. Based on the age group and other demographics of the audience, it may be more appropriate to include jokes or speak from a more faith-based approach.
BONUS TIP: If you can, bring someone you know and you're comfortable with. Their positive energy and support will help you get through the presentation
I hope these tips give you the confidence you need for the next time you have to do any kind of public speaking. Do you have any other tips or tricks? I'd love for you to share them in the comment section.