MONDAY BYTES — April 25
Have you ever had that nightmare of walking out on stage and being completely unprepared? I know I have!
(And I’m always relieved to wake up and realize it was simply an anxiety dream.)
Of course it’s absurd to think we’d ever walk into an actual performance unprepared.
That’s exactly what many us have done with speaking from the stage. And with teaching demos, media interviews, or workshop presentations.
The results are predictably less than ideal.
The good news is that all it takes is a little attention, planning, and practice to become a more engaging and confident presenter. To take the nightmare out of speaking in public.
Here are the tools to
1. Make a game plan. Don’t wing it. Have a clear theme and identify the 2 or 3 main points you want to make and illustrate these with examples. Make an outline, write out the specifics, and then practice it.
2. Get real. Tell stories, use anecdotes from your experience to illustrate your points. If you’re introducing a work in a concert, your audience wants to hear about your connection to it and they want to get a sense of you as a person.
3. Keep it simple. Don’t try to impress people with fancy words or jargon that will alienate some of your audience. Stick to active verbs. Be direct and human. The power is in clarity.
4. Don’t equivocate. It dilutes your message and undermines the impact. Eliminate kind of, sort of, somewhat, perhaps, I just think, etc.
5. Get rid of the “filler”: say goodbye to actually, so, very, really, rather, quite frankly, as well as awesome, like, you know, stuff, ah and um. Don’t be afraid of silence: pauses are good.
6. Quit the “upspeak.” This is the annoying habit of ending declarative statement as though it’s a question. Upspeak makes us sound unsure of ourselves, as though we’re looking for validation.
7. Fix Your Mindset. Don’t be looking for approval. If you’re wanting to please, you aren’t focusing on your message. It’s more important to make your points with your own clear conviction. For perspective on this, check out comedian and journalist Faith Salie’s Approval Junkie.
8. Shoot & Review. Video tape your practice sessions. Review for any:
A. distracting body movement, and
B. make sure you sound energized and enthusiastic, that you
C. project your voice, and that you
D. make appropriate eye contact.
9. Power Pose. Use Amy Cuddy’s power poses regularly to build your confidence and to practice being fully present. This can have terrific benefits in all facets of life—not just the public speaking.
Want more help?
In my book Beyond Talent chapter 8 is all about connecting with audiences. It covers teaching artist and community engagement work: how to develop programs and the speaking skills needed for them, and how to get bookings for these opportunities.
As always, I welcome your feedback and would love to hear what other tools have helped your public speaking.
Info on working with me HERE.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well