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Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding You Back?

Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding You Back?

If you want to get ahead in your career and fulfil your potential, you need to master the art of public speaking. You need to be able to clearly articulate your message, engage and inspire others and speak with confidence about what you do. 

This is true even if you don’t plan to give a formal presentation or get up on stage to present a TED talk. 

Unfortunately, fear of public speaking (or glossophobia as it is formally known) causes otherwise talented, motivated and highly driven individuals like you to hit that ceiling because they don’t have these essential soft skills their industry needs. 

If you are one of the many people who fear public speaking, you may feel like you are overlooked in the workplace and are ignored when it comes to promotions, and you avoid pushing yourself to achieve your best because that fear is always there. 

What causes this fear of public speaking, and how can we overcome our nerves, become influential public speakers and start grabbing our career opportunities with both hands? Let’s have a closer look. 

Why are so many of us afraid of public speaking? 

According to a 1999 study, a surprising 77% of people feel anxious, nervous or even afraid of public speaking. While many can control their nerves effectively, others find that it becomes a full-blown phobia. 

These feelings are always based on fear. We’re afraid that we’ll say something stupid or embarrassing, forget what we want to say, feel self-conscious or that we won’t be able to hide our nerves and that our audience will notice the truth. Perhaps we previously had a negative experience with public speaking, which planted that seed of doubt in our heads, and now we’re afraid that the same will happen again. 

But as you’ll know all too well, if you’ve ever felt those butterflies in your stomach as you prepare to speak, it’s not only psychological- our bodies also react to the fear

This triggers your autonomic nervous system to kick into action and respond to what it perceives as a threat, and it gives us all those physical symptoms of fear such as a dry mouth, shaking, high blood pressure, nausea, and so on. 

Let’s recap. You experienced those thoughts that you were going to mess up or make a fool of yourself by speaking in public. The experience turned to fear, which triggered those horrible, uncomfortable and even debilitating physical sensations and left us feeling worse than ever. We’re unable to focus, more likely to make mistakes, forget what we’re saying and quite understandable, and start avoiding these kinds of situations. 

Breaking free from this cycle of fear

As you may have noticed, the whole cycle of fear mentioned above starts with your thoughts and beliefs, or in other words, your mindset. It is all that stands between you and becoming a successful public speaker. Learn to master your mindset, and you can become an engaging, inspiring public speaker who feels comfortable in front of a crowd. 

The fastest and most effective way to break is this cycle is to invest in yourself and work with an experienced coach to guide you and help you manage your nervousness and step into your best self when it comes to speaking in front of others. 

As an experienced coach who has worked with thousands of leaders (and someone who used to feel extremely nervous about speaking in public, I can provide you with the support and guidance you need. Let’s make a time to chat about how I can help you.

You can also use the A-B-C Technique to help you deal with your fear of public speaking. 

1. Accept that your feelings are normal

The feelings associated with nervousness, including racing heart, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling and so on, are part of the classic fight, flight or freeze response. It’s a normal physiological response to stress (real or perceived). When you feel this, it means you have a functioning body that is doing its job. 

Instead of trying to fight those feelings as they enter your body, simply acknowledge and accept what’s going on.

2. Breathe: use the square breathing technique

There are a couple of simple and effective breathing techniques that are of great help when you are waiting to speak, and you can feel the tension rise in your body. 

Here is the Square Breathing Technique. It’s an effective tool to regulate your breathing, get you to focus and make sure your breath out is complete. 

  • Imagine a square frame around your head and shoulders.
  • Start at any corner.
  • Trace with your finger or with your mind along each side.
  • Breathe in on the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Hold your breath for the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Breathe out to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Hold to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Each side of the square and each breath and hold has equal time.

3. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking of public speaking as something to be feared, think of it as an opportunity to serve.

Every time you step up and speak, you are there to serve, to share your knowledge and wisdom with others.  

It’s not about you. You are the medium, and the message is the crucial thing. 

Instead of public speaking, think of it as public-serving. 

Summary

By mastering your mindset and using proven strategies to control your fear and improve your public speaking skills, you can become an engaging, inspiring and confident communicator who exceeds their expectations and gets the promotions they deserve. 

As a qualified Neurolinguisitic Programing Practioner and Speaker Coach, I have a range of practical tools and strategies that have helped hundreds of people conquer a fear of public speaking.

If you are ready to get over being afraid of speaking and you want to forge ahead with high-level public speaking, then lets chat. 


About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.

6 Ways to Boost Your Executive Presence

6 Ways to Boost Your Executive Presence

Executive presence is the leadership quality that will help you become the leader that others can’t help but notice. It helps you to inspire confidence in others and demonstrate your capability, reliability and potential as a leader. 

It’s built on three pillars; how you act, how you look and how you speak and includes your attitude, confidence, non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, public speaking skills, and even your personal brand. 

When you improve your executive presence, you’ll be more likely to stand out from your peers and be offered the kinds of opportunities that you deserve. Working with an executive coach who is experienced in helping leaders boost their confidence and influence with executive presence characteristics will make a significant difference to your performance. 

In the meantime, here are 6 tips that can help you get started. 

1. Polish your speaking and presentation skills

If you want to improve or boost your executive presence and increase your confidence, you must work on improving your speaking skills. When you can speak with clarity, you will share your message more effectively, appear to be more confident and, perhaps most importantly, inspire your audience and connect with them on a deeper level. 

It’s not only the words that you use that will have an impact, but how you deliver that message will determine the way in which it is received. Working on your leadership voice is part of developing your executive presence.

Leaders who speak too quickly or too slowly, use a monotonous voice, speak in a high pitch or don’t articulate the words clearly are likely to miss the mark. Own your voice, speak up and be heard. 

2. Develop your confidence

Confidence is one of the most important ‘soft skills’ you’ll need to become an inspiring leader and develop executive presence. When you can demonstrate quiet confidence, and move with energy and intention, you will inspire a sense of trust and senior management will be more likely to sit up and notice you. 

However, many of my coaching clients feel that their lack of confidence is permanent and they will never be able to work through it, but as I explain to them, this certainly isn’t the case. There are many tricks and techniques we can use to help you control your nervousness, cultivate confidence and stand out from your peers. 

Learn to speak with confidence by attending my one day training course in Perth.

3. Use the power of non-verbal communication

Strong, positive body language is essential when it comes to building your credibility, connecting with your listeners and again, inspiring confidence. Here are some tips that can help you boost your skills:

  • Prepare: know your message and practice speaking beforehand.
  • Visualise: imagine yourself speaking with confidence and presence. 
  • Make eye contact: whether you’re speaking to just a few people or a larger audience, making eye contact will help you build your executive presence.
  • Be present: remember that you’re there to deliver a message. It’s not about you.
  • Stand confidently: keep your feet hip-distance apart and your feet firmly grounded. Relax your shoulders. 

4. Create a positive first impression 

Did you know that it takes people just a few seconds to decide a person’s characteristics when they meet them for the first time? 

This includes traits like trustworthiness, competence, charisma and likeability that are critical for building business relationships and growing a successful career. When a person believes that you are professional, you’re more likely to be presented with new career opportunities and foster growth. 

To maximise your impact, start by tweaking your appearance. Dress to impress. Be neatly groomed at all times and wear the correct style of clothing for your industry, culture and level of formality. 

5. Showcase your personal brand 

Effective personal branding can provide you with a winning advantage when it comes to your career, especially during these uncertain times. It’s practically impossible to succeed in the modern world unless you are maximising your impact in this way. Be proactive and ensure that you’re maximising the impact of yours. Consider the following:

  • How are you showing up online and offline? 
  • Are you using social media to showcase your expertise? 
  • Do you have an up-to-date profile picture on LinkedIn? 
  • What does Google say about you? 
  • Are you grabbing public speaking opportunities to share your message? 
  • How effectively do you network
  • How do you dress?

Each of these factors will affect your personal brand and allow you to promote yourself and your expertise more effectively. 

6. Build your self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence

Effective leaders are always aware of how emotions can influence the outcome of any relationship or negotiation. They are aware of their own emotions, how they can impact others and how they can effectively manage them for best effect. They also make the effort to notice other people’s emotions, demonstrate great empathy and can resolve conflicts effectively. 

The great news is that emotional intelligence isn’t a skill that you need to be born with. You can improve your soft skills by tuning in to your emotions and noticing how to respond in stressful situations or when faced with conflict or change. Also, get feedback from others to understand how you are perceived by others and be willing to make any changes needed to help you develop your executive presence and grow your career. 

Summary

Building your executive presence involves much more than becoming an effective leader. By improving your public speaking skills, growing your confidence, harnessing the power of non-verbal communication, creating a positive first impression, improving your personal brand and building your Emotional Intelligence, you can inspire confidence and trust so you can build your professional career.

I can help you master the art of executive presence and fulfil your potential. Contact me today to find out more.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.

Get better at public speaking by doing this one thing

Get better at public speaking by doing this one thing

Say less!

Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his son this advice about public speaking. 

“Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated” 

It is much easier to give a long talk, as being brief means spending more time preparing and editing out the bits of your talk that are non essential.

According to Joe McCormack, author of Brief: How to make a bigger impact by saying lessthere are three tendencies that stop people from being brief when they are speaking in public;

  1. The tendency of over explaining
  2. The tendency of under preparing
  3. The tendency to completely miss the point.

Don’t add to the overwhelm

In today’s world we are bombarded with emails, interruptions, and the frequent checking of smartphones and other distractions. 

The need to be brief, to cut to the chase, and to avoid any extraneous information is essential if you want to be an effective communicator.

Yet, many of us struggle to keep our message brief, as it requires more effort to plan and refine the content. 

Being brief is a skill worth mastering when you are dealing with people who are overwhelmed with information – and that is most of us!

“If I say 150 words a minute, and you can hear 750 words a minute, the less I say, the more you hear.  

The more you say, the less they’re going to hear,”

Joe McCormack

Filter out the non-essential

Start by removing any non-essential information from your message. Aim to get better at filtering the ‘must have’ from the ‘nice to have’. It is often a challenge to ‘slash and burn’ your own material, as we can get attached to it. This is where a skilled editor or copywriter can be a great asset. 

Timing is fundamental to your credibility as a speaker

Don’t say more simply because you have the time. If you can deliver a message with impact, in less time than you have been allocated, there’s no need to fill up the extra time for the sake of it. 

Noone is going to complain about a bit of extra time for networking, grabbing a stretch, or having a refreshment break. 

However, what is considered bad mannered, is speaking way over time. Planning your time and knowing where you can cut out material on the fly, is a skill that sets an exceptional speaker apart from the rest. 

You didn’t have time to prepare?  

Your audience should not have to bear the brunt of lack of preparation. Being underprepared can lead to fluff and waffle, as you are gathering your thoughts as you go. 

As you think about what comes next or what you had planned to say, you may drop in an excessive number of  ‘ums, ahs, so, you know’ as you buy more time. This lack of preparation is obvious to all in the room and is hard to disguise. It can give the impression of ‘your time is not as valuable as mine’.  

On the other hand, a well prepared speaker will look and sound natural, and their material will flow and appear effortless. 

When you are at ease and fully across your material, you can focus on the audience, read their non verbal cues, change up your delivery or content as needed, and the experience will be more relaxing and enjoyable.

It takes more time to be brief, but it is worth it. A speaker who is considerable about time, and can make their point concisely with content that is memorable and compelling, is the speaker who will be appreciated and asked back. 

What’s the point?

When you plan and practice your talk, the first thing you must determine is the key message. If you cannot clearly state the point of your talk in ten words or less, it’s probably too complex or lacking in structure. 

Having a tagline, a takeaway and a WIIFM is a way to articulate your message in a concise way. 

When you are clear on your point, you can add supporting evidence, story, and delivery techniques to round it out. 

When you have a simple framework to your talk it keeps you on track. 

If your preference is to write out a script for your talk, then I suggest you write it as you will speak it. We speak very differently than how we write, and when we speak a piece that is meant to be written, it sounds like it’s being read aloud. 

Write your speech lines like poetry, aim to have shorter sentences with room for pauses. 

When you are standing in front of the group speaking and you find yourself unintentionally wandering, pull yourself back so that you stick to the point. 

Every time you speak in front of an audience you have the opportunity to stand out, to be unique and to make a difference. Be the best speaker you can be. 


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

My services include: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

10 Public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid

10 Public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid

Did you know that many speakers can reduce the impact of their message with any of these common public speaking mistakes? 

Whether they don’t use their body language effectively, their presentation skills are lacking, or they simply make small mistakes, this can all reduce their ability to share their message and connect with their audience. 

I’ve gathered together the top ten most common public speaking mistakes that I see my clients make all the time (plus a bonus one!), along with public speaking tips to help you polish your performance. 

Mistake 1: Reading aloud

Although reading aloud is a fantastic way to practise your public speaking skills at home, you should avoid it at all costs when you’re in front of an audience. Even if you’re a very fluent reader, you’ll struggle to sound authentic and connect with your audience on a deeper level (or worse still, you’ll end up sounding robotic!) 

How to fix it

Make notes that are brief bullet points or trigger words to remind you of the key points of your presentation if needed but avoid writing the whole sentences. Under pressure, you could default to reading aloud again. People will switch off if you lose them and it’s hard to get them back. Also ensure that you’re also looking up from your notes when you speak and making eye contact with your audience. 

Mistake 2: Memorising a script

When you memorise a script, you’ll need to spend a lot of energy learning your ‘lines’ that would be better spent practicing your non-verbal communication and presentation skills. You also run the risk of forgetting one sentence or section of your message and struggling to continue with the presentation. 

How to fix it

Instead, have a theme and use several chunks to organise your ideas. I recommend three chunks as our brain loves triads. Then talk through these chunks, using your own words. You’ll sound more natural and there will be much less pressure on you. 

If you’re worried about forgetting what you want to say or your nerves getting the better of you, consider working from notes (see above) and consider working with a public speaking coach

Mistake 3: Poor use of slides

Great public speakers use high-quality slides to highlight features of their message and tell a story. Used correctly, they can help your audience stay engaged, add extra details to your story and provide extra visual input for those who best receive information in this way. 

However, many people struggle when it comes to using slides and fill them with complex information, use them as a memory prompt, focus on the slides not the audience and fail to use them effectively. 

How to fix it

If you want to become a better public speaker, you should ensure that your slides are professional quality and that you use them seamlessly. Use presentation mode and a remote clicker when you use slides so you can keep your focus on your audience and don’t need to look back. 

Create clear, crisp slides that are visually rich with a minimum of text, a font that is large enough to read and images wherever possible. Finally, make sure you stand to the side to avoid blocking the screen. 

Mistake 4: Speaking too quickly

If you’re speaking too quickly when you’re making a presentation or giving a talk, the audience will struggle to understand your message and could switch off entirely. They’ll be less likely to like and trust you, you’re more likely to get out of breath and you’ll find your stress levels increasing. For those reasons, you should slow down what you’re saying, even if you feel like a bag of nerves and want to get through your presentation as quickly as possible. 

How to fix it 

Slow down, take a breath and be OK with silence – it’s a good thing. Also consider how you can use pauses at key points in your speech or presentation to better connect with your audience and drive your message home. 

Mistake 5: Using a monotone voice 

Most of us have attended someone’s speech or presentation and found ourselves daydreaming and struggling to stay engaged with their message or story. The speaker’s voice was so flat, dull, and monotonous that, despite our efforts to focus, we started daydreaming. 

As a public speaker, you should ensure that this never happens to your audience. You should be using your voice to add inflection, bring colour and character to your presentation and bring energy to the room. 

How to fix it

Before starting your presentation or speech, take a few deep breaths to help you calm your nerves so your voice will appear more natural. Then speak in the same way as you would with your colleagues, allowing your voice to flow and contain all of the highs and lows of natural speech. If you’re unsure whether you use a monotonous voice in your presentations, record yourself when you’re rehearsing. 

Mistake 6: Pacing or fidgeting

Do you have any tiny mannerisms or habits that you used to help you cope with your fear of public speaking? This might include pacing up and down, fidgeting, rocking, playing with a pen, twisting a ring, gripping a lectern, and doing any similar repetitive actions. If this is the case, you can learn how to get these habits under control – as they’ll distract your audience from your message and destroy your confidence and credibility.

How to fix it 

Stay grounded to the spot whenever you can, keeping your feet hip-distance apart and relaxing the upper part of your body. Allow your arms and hands to move naturally. When you want to move, do so with purpose. Don’t let your nerves get the better of you! 

Mistake 7: Lack of facial expression

When making a presentation, you should use your facial expressions to help convey your message, connect you with your audience and allow those around you to feel at ease. The trouble is, when we’re nervous, we tend to tense the muscles in our face, jaw, and neck. This can cause us to look blank, expressionless, or even like a deer in the headlights! 

How to fix it

Become more aware of your face and consciously relax and release any muscle tension. Smile when it’s appropriate- you’ll release a flood of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that naturally slow your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and help you feel much more comfortable and confident in front of your audience. 

Mistake 8: Avoiding eye contact

Avoiding eye contact and looking at the ceiling or floor might seem like an excellent coping mechanism when you’re nervous. But again, it can prevent you from connecting with your audience and will affect how your audience perceives you and your message. If you want them to like and trust you, you need to bite the bullet and make eye contact. 

How to fix it

When you start your presentation, take a deep breath and glance around the room to become more aware of your audience. Then pick one person and make eye contact with them for 3-5 seconds (about one sentence) before moving on to someone else. 

Mistake 9: Standing behind a desk or lectern

When you stand behind a physical object such as a desk or lectern, you’ll be putting space between yourself and your audience. You’ll find it much harder to connect authentically, you’ll limit the natural hand gestures that can add character to your presentation, and you could look less confident. 

How to fix it

Be brave and step out from behind that desk, lectern, or other prop. You’ll relate so much better with your audience and share your message more effectively. Make sure you inform the organisers beforehand so they can provide you with the right microphone to ensure you can be heard at all times. 

Mistake 10: Lack of preparation or practice

Winging it is not a professional or effective public speaking strategy, especially if you want to create a good impression and enhance your career prospects. Take this approach and you could miss key points in your presentation, appear disorganised and unprofessional and look like you lack experience. If people are giving up their most valuable resource- their time- we need to honour that. Preparation and practice are key.

How to fix it

The preparation and practise side of speaking in public can be boring and time-consuming but it makes all the difference. Why not consider rehearsing your presentation to the wall, or your pet dog to start with? You can also record yourself (an excellent way to improve your body language) or ask a friend to help. 

BONUS TIP: [Mistake 11]: Not sticking to the allocated time

Ex-Cuban leader, Fidel Castro was famous for his long, rambling speeches that could continue for hours and literally send his audience to sleep. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be doing this if you want a successful public speaking career, especially if you are a guest speaker or have a fixed amount of time available. 

Stick to the allocated time and you’ll save yourself needless embarrassment and again, find it easier to keep your audience engaged. 

How to fix it

Make a note of the time you’ve been allocated and don’t speak for longer than this. Plan, prepare and practise so you can deliver on time, allowing a short amount of time for questions and other disturbances. 

Summary

By avoiding these public speaking mistakes, you can become a more effective public speaker who can engage better with their audience, share their message with ease and create a strong professional reputation. 

About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.

Public Speaking Basics

Public Speaking Basics

If you aspire to get paid to speak, or you want to become better at public speaking to build your business, here are some tips to help you nail the basics of public speaking.

Getting started as a public speaker

As a Public Speaking and Business Storytelling coach I am often asked about getting started and the journey to becoming a better public speaker. 

You may be keen to take it a step further and include speaking as part of a portfolio career or at least a stream of income. Many people who get paid to speak are not only speakers, they are also a coach, mentor and/or trainer. 

What does it take to become a professional speaker?

Before you go and hit the pavement as a speaker, think about your intention. How can you  leverage speaking as a tool to help you grow your career or business, as well as your brand. What does it take to become a professional speaker?

Start by deciding what you are going to speak about.

One of the basics of public speaking  and often the hardest thing to pin down is the theme and topic that is going to form the premise of your message. 

Turning your dream into a purpose

You may have a dream to motivate and inspire others, perhaps you are keen to get in front of the camera to build your business or start a podcast. Before you go any further, be clear on your topic. 

Start by thinking about your Ikigai (japanese for reason for being). It’s the Japanese word for ‘a reason to live’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed in the morning’.It’s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet. Ikigai is well worth the read if you want some guidance on finding yours 

What gives you joy?

What is the topic that makes you feel joy and really excites you when you speak about it? It takes commitment and a lot of practice to become competent at speaking in public. You need to enjoy what you are speaking about, or it will quickly become dull.

What are you good at?

What is your area of expertise? Perhaps you can combine these skills and experience with another aspect of your life such as a hobby or way of living. For example, you may have studied architecture and be interested in all things design, and now you are interested in, and regularly undertake mindfulness. Perhaps you could combine the principles of design with mindfulness in some way. Think laterally. Find a topic that is centred around the essence of you and what will help you stand out. 

What does the world need?

What topic is useful to others. Do some market research to find out what topics are in demand right now? Find a topic that is needed in the community as well as one that you have credibility to speak about, and that you are also passionate about. When you are starting out as a speaker, it’s better to have one well crafted and refined talk on offer rather than a long menu of talks. 

What will the market pay for?

If there is a flood of leadership speakers what aspect of leadership can you niche on? Again do some research and find out what type of speakers are being booked to speak at conferences.  It may be more difficult to find out what fees are being paid for that topic and speaker as there are many variables. If you would like to book a clarity call with me, I can offer you some tips on what you may expect to be paid as an emerging speaker. (link to book a comp clarity call)

Maybe working with a public speaking coach is right for you. 

When you combine the four elements of Ikigai you will have a better understanding of what topic to choose.

You may like to work with a n experienced coach to help you discover your speaking strategy. Here are some tips to help you find the right speaking coach for you. I suggest you work with a coach who is accredited and experienced in not only the art and science of speaking but also the business side of speaking. 

In my next blog article in this series of the basics of Public Speaking, I will share with you how I go shout crafting a speech from scratch. 


About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.

Improve your public speaking by attending networking events

Improve your public speaking by attending networking events

If you are nervous about public speaking, you may also feel uncomfortable about networking. For many people, small talk and meeting new people can be a source of anxiety. 

If you don’t care much for the chit-chat that comes with a networking event you may be thinking:

  • I don’t have anything interesting to say.
  • I don’t know how to introduce myself without making it all about me.
  • I feel uncomfortable when it seems like everyone else is in a group. 

I’ve felt all of the above, and over the past few years, I have had to work at getting comfortable attending networking events. If you are nervous about speaking in public, then networking events are an excellent place to immerse yourself in conversation, even if it feels awkward at first. You may also like to try to focus on being a connector at a networking event.

The way to tackle a networking event is to have a strategy.

Consider the following:

  • You are there to serve
  • You are there to learn
  • Your aim is to make quality connections
  • You can leave when you want
  • You are probably not the only one in the room who is feeling uncomfortable.

What can you do when you arrive alone at networking events?

Your first stop may be the bathroom. Try on a Power Pose and say to yourself ‘you got this’.

Then as you step into the room ensure you have a confident posture, open body language and a smile. 

Actions of confidence come before feelings of confidence. 

Find someone else alone. That person may well be feeling a little awkward too.

You may prefer to stick to the edge of the room for a while, as you will be less overwhelmed by people. 

As you build your courage, you can look for a group of three or five and find a gap in their circle, step in to say ‘hi, can I join you?’. If they are deep in conversation, they may not immediately acknowledge you, wait it out and then introduce yourself.

What can you do if you arrive with a friend?

It’s easy to stick with the friend who you came with; however, that doesn’t help you network and ultimately get over feeling nervous about public speaking and meeting new people. 

Perhaps you can stay together for the first 15 minutes and then make an effort to go separate ways. Or you could invite another person along to join the two of you making a group of three. One of you could then step out and go and meet others. 

Alternatively, the two of you could look out for a group of three and go and join that group.

It is best to avoid attempting to join others in pairs or groups of four as those people are likely to be deep in conversation in their couple, and it is harder to be accepted in. 

Feeling awkward?

Don’t be tempted to get out your phone and start scrolling on social media or pretending you are talking to someone, and avoid offering to help the organisers or staff.  I’ve done both of these things to avoid feeling super awkward. It doesn’t help! I used to have a habit of attending conferences and ending up behind the registration desk or helping set up tables – the organisers may appreciate it, but it is not helping you push out of your comfort zone. 

Exit networking events gracefully

Sometimes it feels like the time to go, but you are stuck in a conversation, or you may think it’s impolite to leave early. When the time is right for you to leave, best you do so with grace and without fuss.

If the host is free, you can thank them and leave. If the host is engaged in conversation, then leave the event and follow up and thank the host the next day. 

If you are in conversation and you want to leave, you can state “I’ll be leaving in a few minutes,”. And then go—no need to make an excuse or offer apologies.

Business cards or not?

It’s a personal preference. I will carry a limited number of business cards with me and only offer a card if I am asked for one. I prefer to connect with the person right away using Linkedin. 

Some people will hand a card to everyone they meet. One way you can accept the card without adding to the stack you may have at home, is to take a picture of it. There are plenty of Apps that store business cards. 

What is your follow up system?

Follow up is extremely important. Let’s assume that you met at least one interesting person at the networking event. Perhaps you had a conversation, and you felt some alignment with them. Maybe there were others who you had a brief interaction with, and you’d like to continue a conversation.

LinkedIn is a great way to stay connected, and as a professional platform, you can’t beat LinkedIn for ease of use. There is a neat feature built into the search bar of LinkedIn on a mobile device. You can scan and connect with  the other person using the QR code that is part of their profile. It makes it easier to continue the conversation via message afterwards. 

There are plenty of CRM systems that can make it easy to store contacts and make notes to help you remember.

Whatever works for you, have a way to follow up those contacts who you would like to speak more with.

Networking is about finding out who you can serve, who you can ask for help and how you can continue the conversation. It can be the beginning of a fruitful business relationship and a great way to improve your public speaking. 


About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.