In last week’s message, I shared with you my old fear of public speaking, recalling that my lungs would shrink to what felt like the size of two peanuts. I promised to tell you what I have done to get comfortable talking with groups. Here’s what has worked.
- Pay attention. I paid attention to facilitators who exhibited comfortable confidence. I noticed how they connected with their audience. Made eye contact. Moved around. Checked their notes only to stay on track. Appeared to enjoy what they were doing.
- Shift the focus. A significant change occurred when I shifted my mindset from being a ‘presenter’ to more of a ‘connector’ having a conversation. It moved the spotlight from me to the audience, with the focus on them understanding the content. This shift enabled me to talk naturally, breathe easily, move comfortably, even allow for momentary silences, which gave the audience (and me) time to process what was happening.
- Write your own content. When I explain something in my own words, I connect with my audience better.
- Know your content inside and out. When I talk from my heart, my experience, my knowledge, with brief supporting stories, it connects.
- Practice. When it’s time to talk, it flows naturally, not exactly as I wrote it. This reminds me of an interview years ago with Frank Sinatra, who sang with ease. He said he practiced his songs a thousand times. When he was on stage, he didn’t have to think about the content, it just flowed.
- Visualize yourself nailing it. Visualizing is a powerful tool for many situations. When I picture myself enjoying connecting with my audience, confidently making my points, it helps me actually do it.
Remember that speaking to a group is all about them getting what you’re talking about. You will do your best by being yourself as you share what you have to offer. Take the spotlight off yourself, be there for them, and enjoy the experience.