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Ace Any Public Speaking Gig with these 6 Tips Backed by Science

Ace Any Public Speaking Gig with these 6 Tips Backed by Science

Did you know that the fear of public speaking is THE number one thing most people are afraid of?

Believe it or not, the fear of death only comes in at second place. In a joke said on the popular show Seinfeld, he said that:

“To the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

It may seem odd, but even the most seasoned public speakers will tell you that they still get the jitters from time to time.

Whether you’re about to give a toast at a bridal reception, or you need to pitch a proposal to a client, getting over your fear of public speaking can open up a lot of doors. You’ll appear as someone who’s confident, talented, and charismatic. You might even get promoted, too.

You’ve undoubtedly heard countless advice on public speaking, from imagining the audience in their underwear to carrying a rabbit’s foot in your pocket. But, your best bet comes right down to science.

Keep these six tips in mind and you should ace ANY speaking engagement like a pro:

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1. Come prepared for the event.

“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.”

– Michael H. Mescon, author and speaker

Even if it’s totally last minute, there are still things you can do to prep for the speech. Were you asked by your boss to give a sales pitch? Do you need to be the Master of Ceremonies for a friend’s wedding reception? The less prepared you are, the more anxious you’ll get. Plus, there’s nothing worse than rambling about irrelevant ideas.

Use the Web to search for similar speeches or for inspiration to create your own. Read on related topics. Write important notes on index cards as a guide during the presentation. Do whatever it takes to come prepared for your intention.

2. Carry something familiar.

“A good orator is pointed and impassioned.”

– Marcus Cicero, Roman philosopher and orator

It’s normal to find yourself feeling anxious or jittery – no matter how prepared you are. Just thinking about facing your fears is NOT enough. If it’s your first public speaking gig, you might be so stressed that you’re ready to flee!

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To calm your nerves, try carrying something familiar with you. It could be your favorite pen, a keychain, or that bracelet your spouse gave you. Hold it in your hand for a few minutes while concentrating on your breathing.

Speaking in public is usually scary because it forces people to be in situations that are alien to them. By carrying something special with you, you create a safe space that’s familiar to you.

3. Hum a tune BEFORE the public speaking event.

Humming your favorite tune has several health benefits.[1] One, it helps calm your nerves. In fact, it’s one of the fastest ways to relieve stress. Secondly, it improves airflow between your sinuses. This is great if you want to avoid sounding “stuffy” during one of your talks.

So relax your mind by whistling a happy a tune. Aside from helping your mind focus, it can also soothe your nerves so you won’t feel as nervous once you step onto the stage. Simple songs like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme should work well for this drill.

4. Shift your mindset from YOU to YOUR AUDIENCE.

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send, but by what the listener receives.”

– Lilly Walters, motivational keynote speaker

One of the main reasons people fear public speaking is because we are afraid of being put under the spotlight. What if we get laughed at? What if we jumble our words? What if we stumble and fall flat on our face?

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The human mind is geared to go through every bad scenario we can think of. But blogger and motivational speaker, Michael Hyatt, says that once we change our perspective from US to OUR AUDIENCE, our fear suddenly becomes irrational.[2]

Think about it: if you are asked to speak, do you believe it’s because people want to see you fail? Audiences attend public speaking events because they want to gain something. Whether it’s new information or a sense of inspiration, you have been given the task to relay a message.

The question now is: how can you best deliver this point across? Looking at it from this angle, talking to a crowd doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

5. Begin with a story.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Carl W. Buechner, writer and theologian

When you tell a story, you light up seven areas in the brain of your listeners, as opposed to only two when you cite facts or figures.[3] You don’t need to ooze with confidence to tell a good story. In fact, audiences will care more for the warmth or emotions associated with it.

Make it personal. What events in your life can you relate to your talk? What values or life lessons can your listeners gain from it? Then, start stringing together words: describe details, give dramatic pauses, and smile.

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6. Practice public speaking at every opportunity.

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, lecturer, and poet

As they say, “practice makes perfect”. Of course, even the most seasoned speakers in the world still get the butterflies before every gig. But as they do it all the time, it just becomes second nature to them.

Whether your industry calls for it or not, getting over the fear of public speaking will open up plenty of doors for you. It will help you meet new friends, communicate better, and look great on your resume. Not bad things to have.

Grab every opportunity to speak in front of a crowd, whether it’s an audience for three folks or 33,000 people. Tell a joke to a small group of friends. Give an impromptu speech for the bride and groom. Offer to do the sales pitch for that important client.

Before you know it, you would’ve conquered the world’s greatest fear.

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske/Pexels.com via pexels.com

Reference

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Cris Antonio

Content Strategist, Storyteller

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

Time.

When you think of this construct, where do you see your time being spent?

As William Shakespeare famously wrote “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…”

Have you used your time wisely? Are you where you want to be?

Or do you have unfinished goals to attain… places you want to be, things you still need to do?

The hard truth is, that time once passed cannot be replaced–which is why it is common to hear people say that one should not squander time doing nothing, or delay certain decisions for later. More often than not, the biggest blocker from reaching our goals is often inaction – which is essentially doing nothing, rather than doing something. 

There are many reasons why we may not do something. Most often it boils down to adequate time. We may feel we don’t have enough time, or that it’s never quite the right time to pursue our goals.

Maybe next month, or maybe next year…

And, before you know it, the time has passed and you’re still no where near achieving those goals you dream about. This inaction often leads to strong regret once we look at the situation through hindsight. So, take some time now to reflect on any goal(s) you may have in mind, or hidden at the back of your mind; and, think about how you can truly start working on them now, and not later.

So, how do you start?

Figure Out Your Purpose (Your Main Goal)


The first important step is to figure out your purpose, or your main goal.

What is it that you’re after in life? And, are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your goal? These are good questions to ask when it comes to figuring out how (and for what purpose) you are spending your time.

Your purpose will guide you, and it will ensure your time spent is within the bounds of what you actually want to accomplish.

A good amount of research has been done on how we as humans develop and embrace long-term and highly meaningful goals in our lives. So much so, that having a purpose has connections to reduced stroke, and heart attack. It turns out, our desire to accomplish goals actually has an evolutionary connection–especially goals with a greater purpose to them. This is because a greater purpose often helps both the individual, and our species as a whole, survive.

Knowing why it is you’re doing something is important; and, when you do, it will be easier to budget your time and effort into pursuing after those milestones or tasks that will lead to the accomplishment of your main goal.

Assess Your Current Time Spent

Next comes the actual time usage. Once you know what your main goal is, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have now. It’s good to know how you’re currently spending your time, so that you can start making improvements and easily assess what can stay and what can go in your day to day routine.

For just one day, ideally on a day when you’d like to be more productive, I encourage you to record a time journal, down to the quarter hour if you can manage. You may be quite surprised at how little things—such as checking social media, answering emails that could wait, or idling at the water cooler or office pantry —can add up to a lot of wasted time.

To get you started, I recommend you check out this quick self assessment to assess your current productivity: Want To Know How Much You’re Getting Done In A Day?

Tricks to Tackle Distractions

Once you’ve assessed how you’re currently spending your time, I hope you won’t be in for too big of a shock when you see just how big of an impact distractions and time wasters are in your life.

Every time your mind wanders from your work, it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get into focus again. That’s almost half an hour of precious time every time you entertain a distraction!

Which is why it’s important to learn how to focus, and tackle distractions effectively. Here’s how to do it:

1. Set Time Aside for Focusing

One way to stay focused is to set focused sessions for yourself. During a focused session, you should let people know that you won’t be responding unless it’s a real emergency.

Set your messaging apps and shared calendars as “busy” to reduce interruptions. Think of these sessions as one on one time with yourself so that you can truly focus on what’s important, without external distractions coming your way.

2. Beware of Emails

Emails may sound harmless, but they can come into our inbox continuously throughout the day, and it’s tempting to respond to them as we receive them. Especially if you’re one to check your notifications frequently.

Instead of checking them every time a new notification sounds, set a specific time to deal with your emails at one go. This will no doubt increase your productivity as you’re dealing with emails one after the other, rather than interrupting your focus on another project each time an email comes in.

Besides switching off your email notifications so as not to get distracted, you could also install a Chrome extension called Block Site that helps to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times, making it easier for you to manage these subtle daily distractions.

3. Let Technology Help

As much as we are getting increasingly distracted because of technology, we can’t deny it’s many advantages. So instead of feeling controlled by technology, why not make use of disabling options that the devices offer?

Turn off email alerts, app notifications, or set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages. There are also apps like Forrest that help to increase your productivity by rewarding you each time you focus well, which encourages you to ignore your phone.

4. Schedule Time to Get Distracted

Just as important as scheduling focus time, is scheduling break times. Balance is always key, so when you start scheduling focused sessions, you should also intentionally pen down some break time slots for your mind to relax.

This is because the brain isn’t created to sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this time, your likelihood of distractions get stronger and you’ll become less motivated.

So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes your brain work more efficiently, and you’ll end up getting more work done overall.

Time is in Your Hands

At the end of the day, we all have a certain amount of time to go all out to pursue our heart’s desires. Whatever your goals are, the time you have now, is in your hands to make them come true.

You simply need to start somewhere, instead of allowing inaction waste your time away, leaving you with regret later on. With a main goal or purpose in mind, you can be on the right track to attaining your desired outcomes.

Being aware of how you spend your time and learning how to tackle common distractions can help boost you forward in completing what’s necessary to reach your most desired goals.

So what are you waiting for? 

Featured photo credit: Aron Visuals via unsplash.com

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