02 Enjoy Speaking

5 Steps to Making the Speaking Space Your Own

​When you’re the speaker making the speaking space “your own”, optimizing it for the audience and yourself, ​can help you deliver a great presentation. Last time we looked at ways to deal with nerves, and ​owning the space is one way to help manage nervousness.  ​Let’s go a little deeper into what this means and …

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Channeling Nervous Energy ​Many people avoid and dread public speaking because of nerves. I know, I was one of them​. Now ​I find speaking in public​ ​fun even joyful – but that doesn’t mean I don't get ​nervous. ​In fact, I do. ​Most of the time I'm the only one who knows (whoops my secret is out) because I've learned to channel that energy into delivering my speech. ​How did shift from ​avoiding to embracing public speaking? ​MINDSET ​I changed ​my relationship​ with ​that nervous energy. ​My discomfort with public speaking​ was holding me back from ​doing what I really wanted to do​. I was NOT ok with that. ​In the end I realized that when it came to giving presentations I was willing to work through the fear, even lean into it fully​. I took concrete steps to learn how to channel ​my nervous energy into delivering ​something great. ​So can you! Here are 5 things I learned that ​can ​ help you channel the nervous energy that arises when it comes to public speaking. Breathing Exercises When I first started my nerves and voice ​were out of control. The pitch was all over; my voice shaky, unstable. Not only did I feel it, but everyone in the room could hear it and see it. Someone came up to me early on and said "Janene, I need to teach you some breathing exercises." (thank you Charlie) ​ Breathing exercises have a calming affect and can soften (or even help you avoid) emotional triggers. What's happening when we get nervous in front of a crowd is the fight, flight freeze instinct is kicking in. This instinct was great in caveman days when danger was a hungry tiger, but as a speaker it doesn't ​serve us. ​ ​Breathing techniques ​improve the quality of your voice. Of course when ​you're nervous and not breathing properly the pitch and quality of ​your voice changes. ​Often our breathing becomes ​very shallow. It's like the difference between a flute and piccolo. If you shorten the instrument the pitch goes higher - so we end up speaking in a high-pitched, squeaky manner rather than deeper, stable voice. TIP: Learn some simple breathing techniques to help you calm down and improve voice quality. Be Comfortable with Your Content If you're unclear in your own mind about what you want to say​, then chances are it will contribute to your nervousness. Most often people are afraid of making a fool of themselves and not knowing what to say is a big part of that. So...know what to say! Prepare. ​Only once you are comfortable with content can you really focus on the delivery. There are different ways and levels of preparedness; depending on your style ​different ​techniques suit you better. Generally, memorizing ​can make your speech sound rehearsed and if you miss a section you might panic. But learning parts of your presentation can be a good ​way to get started; to build from. You'll want think about what prepared means to you - for some it's just having a subject in mind and for others it's having thought about each word. If you're in the group that prepares more, it's also good to know your learning style. Audio people will learn their content best by hearing it, doers by practicing delivering it, etc... ​Develop your own preparation style. I believe it is vital to be crystal clear about the "​take aways" - the 1, 2 or 3 things that you want everyone to walk away with. ​When I prepare a speech or presentation I start there - what ​is it that ​the audience ​should walk out of there knowing. Then I figure out how I'm going to get those ideas across in a way that the majority of the audience will connect with. I need to address something here and that's being the "expert". People often feel that to present on something they have to "Know it all". I always go back to what my dad told me "Don't ever think you know it all, as soon as you do someone will come along who'll show you that you don't. And that's painful." (thanks dad) My point is that knowing your content and being an expert are two different things. Don't confuse them! Strive to be of service, not the ​being the guru. TIPS: ​ Be comfy with your content. ​Be clear ​about your key "take aways". Focus on being of service ​not THE expert. ​Prepare for the Unexpected You might be thinking, Janene you're crazy how can I prepare for what I don't know? Acutally this is one way you can put your worry to good use. If you worry someone will ask something you don't know the answer to, then prepare a way to handle that situation. When I've run courses on public speaking I always tell people be prepared to answer questions that are either off topic or that you don't know the answer too. Sounds silly but it's not and YES you can prepare for that. I suggest (and do it myself) that you prepare a few RESPONSES to questions you might be asked but don't have the answer to. Or to questions that are off topic and you don't want to get into. For example you could say "I'm sure we have some experience in the audience ​who would like to share their thoughts on this ​question." There are quite a few politicians out there who you can learn from when it comes to responding without answering. Do be careful, ​as you​ want to be authentic and tactful. ​You can also​ ask a friend to throw questions at you on a variety of different topics and practice answering them. We do this in Toastmasters with something called Table Topics - we practice impromptu speaking and so can you. ​Every day we are ​faced with questions we aren't prepared for​, but we don't really think about it. ​Somehow in this context the stakes feel higher and we get nervous. That's all the more reason to be prepared​. TIPS: ​ Accept ​you'll be asked ​questions you don't know the answer to. Prepare responses ​to difficult questions. Practice impromptu speaking. Make the Space Your Own Sometimes it surprises me how speakers ​don't really pay attention to ​the space they are speaking in. For me calming nerves is also about making the space ​the best I can for my​self and the audience. There's a venue I once spoke in that wasn't ideal, at first glance. In fact I'd seen other speakers give presentations there and struggle with it. I thought that will not be me. When I arrived to speak there ​I thought about what hadn't worked and how we could adjust then I spoke with the hosts. I asked that when they introduced me (the event was in a bar with two connected rooms) that they physically move people into the main room. This way they wouldn't be tempted to be speaking in the back - which was disruptive at other events. The point here is ​don't be "afraid" to ask them to adjust the space to fit your needs. If you're comfortable as the speaker, then the audience will be more comfortable. ​Everyone wins. TIP: Be bold enough to ask for what you need to make the space your own. ​Focus on Your Audience How egotistical can we get? We assume that because we are the speaker it's all about us. Well guess what? As the speaker your ​main focus ​is ​the audience. For example, what if you're speaking at a networking event in a bar? You've got a corporate slide deck and you think, "Oh, I'll just use that." Now think about after work when you go to a bar for networking is a corporate stiff with a 30 page slide deck what you're looking for? Of course not, so adapt what your doing to suit the audience. ​Think about what they want to hear rather than what you want to say. If you focus on delivering ​the audience a great experience, on showing them a good time and on well, I'm going to say it loving your audience then the nerves dissipate. Why? Because when you're nervous it's because focused on yourself. On what MIGHT happen to you. On how you ​MIGHT make a fool or yourself. On how you might say the wrong thing. Reality is that when your goal is to get them to walk away with those key messages, then your life as the presenter becomes really simple. TIP: ​Make it about the audience and how you can best serve them.

5 Tips To Help You Manage Nerves & Deliver a Great Speech

​Do you get nervous in public speaking situations?​  You’re not alone, most people do.  ​Even​ the ones who are really good at it often feel that surge of energy. Why because we care; maybe even too much. ​​I ​love public speaking and I still get ​nervous. ​I​’ve learned to manage that energy by channeling ​it into …

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