I’ve had a lot of people say to me over the years that they find public speaking really nerve-wracking. It’s something that comes up often in business. So if you haven’t had a lot of practice at it – don’t worry. A lot of people find it challenging.
So I wanted to share a few tips to improve your public speaking skills. Ones that I’ve learned over the years that have helped me;
1. Use a Camera
Although practice makes perfect, not everyone has the opportunity to practice in real life. So my first tip is – record yourself.
Record a video of yourself delivering your speech and watch it back.
Think; ok I’m going to answer five questions. Hit record, and answer the five questions. Then stop, and watch it back. This is a step above practicing in the mirror.
When I started doing this, I was struck by the difference between what I meant to say and what I actually said. So one of my biggest learning curves in say – the first 50 videos – was aligning what I wanted to say with what I actually was saying.
I always think when something is out of alignment, there comes into play a nervousness, as you have a sense that things aren’t right. But when things are in alignment, there comes a strength and confidence with that.
Looking back over footage and seeing where you can improve will give you something to work on.
2. Ask for Help
I got this tip off a great guy; Sean Connelly while talking to him for my University of Life podcast.
While talking about mental resilience, he discussed a practice he does while training people for public speaking – I thought it was fantastic.
Step 1: Ask a friend to interview you. Set up a mock interview with questions and practice answering them.
Step 2: Ask another 2 friends to talk in the background during the mock interview.
Step 3: Ask the 2 friends to try and distract or pull you away from the interview.
Step 4: Record, and repeat it a few times.
Being interviewed is challenging.
Being interviewed with people talking around you is challenging.
And being interviewed with people actively trying to distract you – is all the more challenging.
It might sound odd, but if you make that level of distraction your norm – it makes you level up in terms of what you’re used to. So your ability to relax in certain circumstances will grow. If you become used to noise and stress, being interviewed quietly will be a lot easier.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice until you’re less nervous. Keep taking up new opportunities and push yourself. Put yourself out there to do as many talks as possible.
I spoke with Pat Divilly – a strong wellness leader here in Ireland. He spoke about being nervous on stage and felt he wasn’t representing himself as best he could.
His answer to this was to ring up a bunch of venues around the country and offer to do 100 talks for free.
After the 100 talks – he was rock solid on stage.
So practice does make perfect once you’ve done it enough times. Challenge yourself.
4. Slow Everything Down
Instinctively there’s a tendency to want to answer questions quickly. And when we answer too quickly for ourselves, sometimes it becomes difficult to do ourselves justice.
If you’re asked a question, don’t be afraid to say “that’s a good question,” or “I’m not sure I understand the question, could you perhaps rephrase the question or give me an idea of the sort of answer you’re looking for?”
This allows you to process the question that someone has just asked you.
Your head will go to work on that and you’re then slowing things down to give yourself a little more time, too.
In asking someone to repeat a question or a guideline for an answer, this helps you really focus in on what the person is actually looking for. So give yourself that time. Those extra few seconds. Don’t be afraid to slow the process down – you do not have to jump to an answer right away.
The end result in doing these things is that you’re much more relaxed. You get to actually do yourself justice when you’re being interviewed or given the opportunity to speak in public.
But not just then. Working on your confidence and communication skills can also help your every day life – like when you’re with friends.
Working in this space has much greater value over and above doing just a good speech. It actually stands to you socially, as well.
So I hope that’s of value to you.
And if there are any other things you did that you found useful, please share them with me as I’m always keen to learn and share. Follow me @jamiewhite