tips for public speaking
i want to write this post because social media makes people seem like they're these confident, powerful, rarely anxious people but that's very untrue. if there is one thing you should always remember about social media is that people only allow you to see the things they want you to see.
i want to write this because this past week i had a presentation and the days leading up were filled with nerves and anxiety. sometimes you cant control how you feel and i know feelings of anxiety and nerves are so real but the moment its time to speak, you have to put your my game face on and deliver.
here are some tips on how i prepare and calm my nerves:
1. make it personal: regardless of your topic for the presentation, make what you're talking about personal.
for example my presentation was on the "new social contracts of new employees" or millennial generation as workers. instead of researching for answers and sources (which i did eventually, research is so important to any project but that's a different topic of discussion...) i said, "wait, I'M the new employee. i'm going to put my mindset behind this and just speak what i'm thinking" - by doing this, the presentation becomes much more casual and therefore you will be much more relaxed. also you're words will be much less memorized and much more like conversation. some topics are harder to apply to this to but the more you can try to connect ideas and try to relate to it, the easier it will be to speak about it.
2. know what you're going to say: obviously you cannot go up to give a presentation and have no preparation on how you are going to organize your points and how you're actually going to say them. so what i do is i roughly make an outline of key points and key points within those key points on a piece of paper... then i record myself casually speaking about the topics... then i go back and listen to the recording and i write out a "script" of casual, key sentences i want to say during my speech.
the key to good public speaking is being relaxed, confident, and aware of what you want to say. so by writing down sentences that you actually said, its easier to remember because they're your own words and now you have a casual conversation "script" to work off of.
3. record yourself: now that you have all your thoughts and key points written down. its time to practice the presentation as a whole. turn on you're selfie camera and just sit and talk. play it back and listen to the words you're speaking and ask yourself: am i saying too much? are you getting the points across? do they flow into one another and make sense?
i do this two or three days before a speech and every time i replay, i improve, change, or eliminate parts of my speech. doing this over and over again helps you turn your presentation into a casual conversation that you have practiced and almost memorized. you now know what you're going to say and you've been practicing. we get anxious over public speaking sometimes because we don't know if our thoughts and words are organized or will be well said, this technique eliminates any questions of "will this sound good? what am i going to say?" etc. and now you can eliminate that from one the triggers for your nervousness.
so now that you are prepared, here's how to stay calm the day of...
staying calm before/during your presentation:
1. arrive early, get acclimated to your environment, and breath. i'm typically always early but when i have to give a presentation, i show up at the location extra early. first, you have to get there. so walk confidently to the location and sit down. get used to the environment. sit down and just breath.
breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 7, breath out for 8.
i use this technique all. the. time. breathing is so important i cannot express it enough!
this specific technique is a powerful stress reliever. when we get nervous, our breathing becomes very shallow. breathing in deeply forces the oxygen into our body to calm our nerves and simultaneously slows your heart rate. by completely focusing your attention on your breathing, your mind has no other thoughts to focus on, your heart rate will slow, and you will become more comfortable with your setting. you are now comfortable with the location, full of fresh, breathable oxygen, and have now slowed your heart rate.
2. keep breathing! ok so now it's time for you to stand up in front of your peers. typically, someone will be introducing you so you have a minute or two to continue your breathing. we've moved from our seat to in front of the room so now the nerves are coming back but get back in your head... keep breathing... in for 4, hold for 7, out for 8. you don't need to listen to someone introducing you or giving an introduction, you know who you are! you're the one who's about this kill this presentation! don't listen to what they're saying, just count your breaths and breath.
PRO TIP FOR GROUP PROJECTS: i used to always speak first and get it over with during group projects. but now, using the tip of getting acclimating to your environment, i usually chose to speak second to last. by speaking later on, you're able to get comfortable with the new setting. you have time to breath, stand there, look around the room. i know what my teammates are going to say, we practiced this many times so i don't really need to solely focus on what they're saying. i need to focus on my breathing. use the words in the background as soothing sounds to accompany your breathing. when you first stand up in front of others, you have a rush of emotions and nerves and then speaking right away doesn't give you any time to adjust... you're voice gets shaky, you're sweating, etc.
give yourself some time to readjust. now when it gets to your part, you have now been exposed to standing up in front of others, you were breathing, and now all you have to focus on is what you're going to say.
when it comes to public speaking, preparation is key. if you prepare accordingly, practice what you are going to say, know that it makes sense, know that it flows well, you are breathing and adjusted to the environment... then the moment its your turn to speak, the words will flow out and you will kill it! i typically black out a little when i public speak because as im talking, i'm internally making sure i'm making eye contact and looking around the room and i'm also speaking but also focusing on what i'm about to say next. there's so much to focus on when it comes to public speaking but if you use these tips and prepare and BREATH. i promise you will be fine.