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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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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