Hello again. Yesterday we learned about changing our mindset. Today’s lesson is about something we all dread—public speaking.
Standing on a raised platform is distressing and terrifying for most women. How can you trust yourself? If your words fail you if your mind goes blank or you’re asked to speak up because people can’t hear you?
You can feel very alone in these fears. But ask anyone, and many women will agree that standing to talk in front of a large audience is frightening. This fear is human, and nerves are completely normal.
Before you can even consider speaking confidently on a stage, you must do three things:
• You must learn to trust your instincts.
• Become comfortable with failure and learn from it.
• And, confront the fear of looking bad in front of other people.
Let’s, please remember here. Speaking with confidence is learned, not innate. You can learn how to speak in front of an audience.
So let’s get started. First, you need to:
• Decide what you want to talk about. What do you care about? What makes you angry?
• Say it aloud. Start talking to friends about it, sharing your thoughts on social media.
• Understand that you’ll never feel ready. It will never feel like the perfect time.
• Do it anyway.
Don’t worry what others think: If you’re busy worrying about how you look or how you’re coming across. Instead of the words, you’re saying; you’re guaranteed to appear less confident and make more mistakes.
Concentrate on yourself instead: what are you trying to say, what’s the message you want people to take away?
Practice: The best way to practice is to record, review and repeat. You can ask someone to record you on your phone or record yourself. Does it feel natural? If certain parts don’t feel natural, keep adjusting.
How do you feel when listening back to yourself? Listen to how you emphasize your words, look at how you stand. If you hate it, or this makes you feel comfortable—we all feel like this. It will feel better, the more you do it. Honest.
Another good thing to do if you are giving a presentation in front of an audience is to be mindful of filler words. Filler words, erm, like, so, you know. Anything that breaks up your usual pattern of speech.
Become aware of the filler words you tend to use. Get a friend to listen to you speak and hold up an arm whenever you erm, or like, or so. Don’t try to fill silences. Speak slower and learn to embrace the silence.
Hands and arms: I never used to know what to do with my arms! They always felt in the way when I stood up to speak. So you need to figure out what feels comfortable to you? Is it your hands falling naturally at your sides? Or is it using your hands to make points?
Think about this and be intentional about how you use gestures that work for you. I can promise you can get to a place where you won’t even think about what your hands and arms are doing anymore!
Think about your pace: Suppose we’re nervous and rushing what we’re saying. This will make everything worse. Speak slower than you would in a conversation.
Generally, speaking slower is easier to understand than faster speech. Appropriate silence and pauses allow your audience time to digest what you’ve said and begin to process it.
Breath. If we’re not breathing correctly, we go into attack mode, and we feel stressed. Breathe in. Pause then breathe in for four, breathe out for eight and repeat.
Back to our breath: One brilliant way to practice this is again by using your breath.
At the end of every sentence, take a breath. Use your breath to mark the end of one sentence and the start of another. It slows you down and also helps get rid of filler words: the erm’s, the so’s, the likes.
Another way you can practice this at home is to clap your hands at the end of a sentence. This is particularly useful for those of you who tend to trail off at the end of your sentences.
If you tend to rush through your speech or presentation. Then practice breathing at every punctuation mark—it will force you to slow down. Practice in front of the mirror and with people you trust. To see what makes you look the most comfortable and at ease.
Your task: What have you been holding yourself back from going after? What can you do to push yourself forward, what opportunities should you look for?
Well done, you’ve nearly reached the end of the course. In the next lesson, we’ll look at putting everything we’ve learned into an action plan.
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