6 secrets to finding your super-self
If there was one thing I thought I’d have nailed by now it’s public speaking. To say I get angsty is an understatement – and then of course there’s the small issue of Blank Brain – that awful feeling when your mind totally empties of everything, including your own name. This really started for me when I had kids and took time out from the busy office environment. I have other friends who are preparing to go back to work for the first time since motherhood and for them this fear is an even bigger deal.
For me, speaking in front of a group of people is to some extent part of my job – I did live radio last week, for goodness sake. Luckily I recently met Aly Harrold (a Professional Speaking Coach who is hosting a FREE workshop next week at the Women Work event). She gave me some top tips which have helped enormously. Yes, having all eyes upon you and all ears listening is daunting, but the adrenaline rush you get doesn’t have to paralyse you with fear (trembling, palpitations, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, a red face and neck, dry mouth and even total panic attacks….) And the confidence to speak out is not just about having a great skill that can really help you along the career ladder or to grow your own business it can also help you in all sorts of social situations on a day-to-day basis. Here’s the 6 crucial ingredients to stepping out of your comfort zone and nailing public speaking:
Preparation: Know your subject really well, inside out and back to front. Even if you are talking for ten minutes this will and should take hours of preparation and practice so start working on the presentation well ahead of the time you will deliver it. Make sure the subject is something you can feel enthusiasm for as you will convey this to your audience.
Nerves: Accept that you will be nervous and that your nerves are a good thing. A certain amount of nervous energy gives you a ‘performance edge’ and will enhance your delivery. You can make your nerves work positively for you and not against you.
Breathing: It is impossible to feel anxious if you calm your nervous system and deep belly breathing will help to do this, as will alternate nostril breathing ‘Yoga Nidra’ which will balance left and right hemispheres of the brain and help you to think more clearly. This in turn will help you to remember what you want to say. For videos of how to do these exercises go here.
Body language: Stand with a good open body posture, no crossed legs or folded arms. Think of a solid ‘A Shape’, feet hip width apart, arms by your sides. This will give you a solid and confident stance. Lift your head and move your shoulders back, an open chest produces more volume in your voice.
Eye Contact: Attempt to make gentle eye contact for a couple of seconds and smile where appropriate. This will help you to build rapport and connection with individuals in the group.
Slow down: Breath and slow down when you speak to give those listening time to think about what you are saying and in turn give you time to think about what you want to say next. There’s really no magic wand – but if you do all this, you will find it definitely works!
Aly Harrold is a Professional Speaking Coach and Award Winning Speaker. She will be speaking at the FREE Women Work in Tunbridge Wells on 10 Mar 2017 (for a list of workshops/speakers click here). For more info visit, alyharrold.co.uk and her Facebook page: facebook.com/alyharroldcoaching