My article for the Brighton and Hove Independent May 2016
Public Speaking for Business
Nerves are the number one public speaking worry.
Speaking well in public’s a leadership essential and a key skill for promoting your brand, business and career. Pitching to clients, team briefings and speeches are a daily reality for many professionals, yet so many find nerves a challenge.
Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford have confessed their fear of public speaking, so if you’re a nervous speaker, you’re not alone. No-one’s born with the ability to speak well, and you can learn practical skills to control those nerves and deliver a memorable message. Realising that the feelings we label ‘nerves’ and ‘excitement’ are the same thing, and that you can change your perception, are the first steps in dealing with your fears.
Your audience wants to hear what you have to say, so if you can answer their ‘what’s in it for me?’ question in plain English, you’ll capture and keep their attention. Using note-cards with keywords will help you look and sound better than if you try to memorise, improvise or read aloud word for word.
Rehearse out loud and on your feet, so it all feels familiar, then get in early and practice to get the feel and the sound of the room. At social events, stick to water until your speech is over. You may think you’ll speak better after a drink, but that’s an illusion.
When the moment arrives, stand up comfortably straight, relax your shoulders and connect with friendly eye contact and a smile. Breathing slowly and deeply from your diaphragm helps you feel calmer and sound better as you say your first few well-practised words.
Yes, your heart will still be racing. It’s pumping the energy you need to power your speech, and you’ll feel better once you get going.
Enjoy speaking well in public