Public speaking can be a necessary evil in a lot of industries, whether you’re speaking up at the big sales meeting, or giving a lecture about horticulture in Spain. So how can you find the confidence to get up there and say what you have to say? Standing up in front of a hundred pairs of eyes might not be in your comfort zone, but it doesn’t mean it has to become the bane of your existence.
Public speaking tip No. 1: Don’t write a script
If you’re nervous it can be very tempting to over-prepare and write everything you have to say into a script. But what happens if you get thrown off? If you’ve practised but not scripted your talk, the chances are you’ll have at least a vague idea of what you have to discuss next. If, however, you’re reliant on cues to know what comes next, you might find yourself feeling stuck if you skip a line.
Public speaking tip No. 2:Remember that nobody else knows what you’re going to say
Unless you’ve given out a copy of your speech in advance (which we would recommend avoiding in accordance with point 1), nobody knows exactly what you’re going to say. If you skip a line or say the wrong word they’ll never know. So while it might feel like the end of the world when you’re standing there with your heart racing and your palms sweating, nobody will know there’s anything wrong if you don’t let on. Public speaking is all about styling it out.
Public speaking tip No. 3:Practise makes perfect
Practise what you’re going to say, yes. But if there’s likely to be a big element of public speaking in your career you should practise that too until it becomes simply a matter of fact which, in time, it will.
Public speaking tip No. 4:Let yourself be bad
If you have more than one speaking engagement lined up, the chances are one of them will be bad. Just like if you have more than one train journey in your calendar, one of them will probably be delayed. It’s not a comment on your abilities, it’s just simple probability. It will never be as bad as it feels at the time anyway, and once you experience the thing you’re afraid of, you’ll know just how little it matters in the long run. A bad performance could be a very positive thing.
Public speaking tip No. 5:Ask for help if you need it
If you need to test out what you’re trying to say on somebody impartial, do it. Your friends and family might not be the most willing volunteers but they’ll probably be prepared to sit and listen in exchange for a drink or more trivial things like your self-confidence and possibility of career progression. Minor things.
Public speaking tip No. 6:Don’t picture the audience naked
It’s classic public speaking advice, but yuck.
We’ve tried to give some basic pieces of advice here, but everybody is different. A more tailored approach can often be better. For more individual advice take a look at HowNow for your chance to learn from the masters.