When it comes to public speaking, I’ve done my fair share. I have done hundreds of talks, presentations, seminars, and even a TEDx for thousands of people. Even though I am well-rehearsed in this area, I still managed to stuff up a speech I delivered recently.
I was making a presentation for the opening of my solo exhibition and I’m still trying to figure out what happened. I was exhausted, nervous, hadn’t practiced, and felt like I would be judged (despite the large number of friends in the audience).
This resulted in a slur of words, thoughts, and embarrassment.
I know I would have been fine if I had just followed my own golden rules.
Research the audience
Before any speaking opportunity find out information about the audience. This will help you to tailor your speech to their needs and level of knowledge.
The more prepared I am, the less nervous I am. Research your topic thoroughly and prepare your speech and then practice, practice, practice.
Try to overcome your nerves. This was the hardest thing for me to do, but it’s important to relax and be yourself. You can use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing to calm your nerves and make sure you are prepared.
Become a public speaking pro
Trust me, the more you practice public speaking, the more successful you will be. Start by speaking at small events and then build up to bigger ones. Say yes as much as possible to every speaking opportunity.
And sometimes you stuff up. And that’s OK. We regularly sing the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen in our office. Don’t hold on to failure, let it go.
Look for the lighthouses
My friend and speaking coach, Mariette Rups-Donnelly taught me this, and I use it every single time. Find the lighthouses in the room. They are the people that are engaged and listening to you. Speak to them and they will feed you energy. It works every time.
Make sure to learn from your experiences (especially your mistakes), and know that once you overcome the obstacles in your path you will emerge a stronger individual. But most important of all, always treat yourself with love and care.