Apparently public speaking is the number one fear for people – ahead of even dying!
So I was especially thrilled to get this feedback from a rather worried client who I’d coached to speak in front of hundreds of people.
He said in true X Factor style:
‘I nailed it, and was commended for doing the best, most powerful effective presentation from ten speakers, many of who present for a living, and was praised by all the top people. I’m really glad I chose to invest in your help. Thanks so much’
So how can you overcome your nerves about speaking in public?
Let me share with you ten techniques and tips I use:
- Identify the ‘initial sensitising experience’ (ISE) – the first event that caused the fear, and then bring to mind any other events that may have compounded your fear. Using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) you can lessen the power that these memories have and replace them with more powerful, positive memories from good times.
- Install an ‘anchor’ – a physical confidence trigger from NLP that you can use before and during your talk to reduce any nerves. An NLP for Dummies book by Romilla Ready and Kate Burton can help you learn NLP techniques.
- Examine your pace – it needs to be quick enough to canter easily through the speech and maintain people’s interest – but is it slow enough for people to understand some complex concepts? Use pauses to emphasise key points.
- Practice changing your tone of voice to rise and fall naturally, to avoid a monotone that can be sleep- inducing!
- Refer to expert sources to plan your content. Professor Max Atkinson’s book ‘ Lend me your Ears’ talks about how to create and deliver great content. He explains how a good speech will use the power of three statements and the power of repetition. Think of one of Tony Blair’s most memorable speeches ‘education, education, education’.
- Early on in your speech you must explain the benefits to your audience – why should
they bother listening to you? What’s in it for them?
- One of the most important aspects of a speech is understanding your audience first so you know what would interest them most. Ask the audience a question and ask for a show of hands early on so that you know what will be most relevant to them and can tailor your speech accordingly.
- Plan your key points. If you need slides use simple visuals or bullet points to support what you are saying. Prepare a set of small cards with your key points on each to guide you through and memorise the speech word for word.
- Use a relaxation CD or try hypnotherapy to build your confidence in the weeks before your speech to maximise the power of your unconscious mind.
- Ensure the opening and ending of the speech makes an impact – this is what people remember most. Finally rehearse, rehearse and rehearse to ensure a perfect performance!