We’ve heard a lot of advice on public speaking over the years – know your audience, be prepared, practice. Even some weird ones like ‘picture everyone in their underwear.’ Today, I’m filling the gaps in that advice to help you conquer your next speech. I’ll break down the 3 acts of public speaking, how to pick an outfit, ways to stop yourself from talking too fast and most importantly how to keep improving.
Much of the advice we receive on public speaking has to do with how to show up during the speech, but I say your pre-speaking prep is just as important. Do an outfit runthrough to avoid wardrobe malfunctions and have buffers in place for unplanned occurrences. Meal prep and planning your transportation are also helpful. The key is eliminating morning of decisions. Minimizing your cognitive load gives you freedom to focus on delivering your speech. (Tweet this!)
Next time you watch the news, pay attention to what the anchors are wearing. They’ll most likely be in bright, solid colors. That’s because it shows up better on screen than prints, stripes, or dark colors. Follow their example to be sure you look your best on presentation day!
FYI: This rule applies for in-person events too since you’ll probably be on camera for photos or a recording.
Now that you’re prepared for the day and have a killer outfit chosen, let’s tackle your time on stage. When you’re speaking, you want to avoid actions that will interrupt the audience like touching your hair, looking down, holding your phone, and clanging jewelry. Keep them focused on your amazing presentation, not distracted by what you’re doing.
Another big distraction – which I’m definitely guilty of – is talking too fast.
Psychology tells us nervousness makes our brain move faster and in turn makes us talk faster. Don’t beat yourself up about it, tackle fast talking by:
You’ve been studying and practicing but this is your audience’s first time hearing the material. Read facial expressions and social cues to know if they’re engaged and understand the material.
If you’ve been a part of the CWK community for any length of time you know I fully endorse copying homework. You can do the same when trying to improve your public speaking skills.
Simply study your favorite public speaker. Pay close attention to their pace, how often they pause, how much time they give the audience after asking a question, etc, then incorporate what you learned into your own style.
The work doesn’t stop when the presentation is over! Take a page out of Tom Brady’s book and study yourself to see where you can improve.
First, watch a playback of yourself with the sound on but no visuals. This way you can recognize if you were talking too fast or slow, using too many filler words, pauses, etc. Next, watch with sound off and only visuals. Observe your posture and catch where you were fidgeting or looking nervous.
Doing this after every public speaking event, whether or not you feel you did well, will always help you to be better the next time around.
I took some time for questions from the CWK Community, here’s what they asked:
If you love these monthly mini sessions be sure to follow me on LinkedIn and sign up for notifications so you never miss one. Also, if you want even more public speaking tips and tricks download my free Ultimate On-Camera Starter Kit to get you started.
To piggyback off of this conversation I’m sitting down with Jessica Chen, CEO of Soulcast Media to talk specifically about creating a strong pitch. Pitching your idea to your team or investors can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences and I’m interested to hear what Jessica recommends for combating those nerves. Join us and bring any questions with!
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