Here I am at an event I am excited about. The advertised speaker and topic look so interesting. I am so looking forward to hearing her and getting that valuable information. The speaker is introduced and begins. Very soon after she starts speaking, I am bored, I check my phone, secretly hoping that an email or text has come in that will have me leave. Alas, no such message arrived and I endure 30 minutes of mind-numbing power point slides and monotone reading of her speech. She may have delivered the valuable content that was promised, but I could not receive it with her presentation.
Has this ever happened to you? Or are you afraid that this speaker will be you? It is often said that many people fear public speaking more than death. And yet, today, in our careers and as we build our businesses, we are called on more often to speak publicly.
When I was a young child, I won speech contests and dreamt of a career where I would write, travel and speak. Then, when I was in high school, I took an upper level speech class and had an embarrassing moment. I was made fun of. I dropped the class, and gave up that dream. I became a registered nurse instead. When I was working for the State of California in the High Risk Infant Follow-Up Program, I was the chairperson for a fund raising event. Here I am with hundreds of people and the master of ceremonies calls me up to the stage to acknowledge me. I turn to my boss and say, “I hate speaking in public” and walk to the stage, trip on my way up and land flat on my face. I sat up and giggled with the rest of the room, but inside I was embarrassed and said to myself “I will never speak in public again”. And that was that.
Many years later, I got over that. The embarrassment was simply holding me back from fulfilling my dreams and I went about getting myself trained to be a great public speaker. I have now spoken in front of thousands of people and consistently receive great feedback. I have also trained many speakers to be great and I want to share some ways you can enhance your presentation skills.
1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Write out your speech, practice it ALOUD many times. Practice it in the mirror. Practice it aloud to another person. Preparation is not about getting every word down, or getting it perfect. Preparation allows you to be comfortable so you can speak with people and interact with them. They came to hear you, so preparation allows you to be fully you.