I hated public speaking. In fact, I hated giving any kind of presentation.
I remember at School and College dreading the days we had to ‘present our work’.
5 years ago, when I was about 20 I received an email from the London College of Fashion. They wanted me to come and present at an event called the Fashion Colloquia, focusing on ‘The Future of Menswear’. Of course my initial fearful reaction was a quick ‘no’, but I knew it would be a good opportunity for me and my business moving forward. The fee involved was another great incentive, and with the positives outweighing the negatives I agreed.
The issue was I’d never done any public speaking. I hated giving presentations at school, I really didn’t know where to start and to top it all off I was then made aware I’d be presenting to 100+ lecturers.
My presentation was an hour long, although the whole experience was a complete blur. But fast forward 5 years and my attitude towards public speaking has completely changed. My fear has gone, I actually enjoy it and most importantly I’m always getting better…
You see improving your public speaking is all about facing fears and breaking comfort zones. The first time I did it I really couldn’t handle the nerves. I practiced and practiced and the whole experience was a complete blur. The feedback was positive though, which pushed me on to do it again 6 months later. This time around the nerves were still there, but I enjoyed it more. The third time became easier, the fourth even easier, and by the fifth time I actually could handle the nerves pretty well.
It’s all about taking that jump, doing it, and then it will soon become easier…
Here’s some tips that I use to help me prepare for public speaking, or in fact giving any kind of presentation.
The 4 P’s To Improving Public Speaking
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Make sure you prepare your presentation early on, the more preparation you can do the more confident you’re going to be. Write down key points you want to cover, prepare your slides (if you’re using them), write down the key message and what you want to portray, and also find out how your audience are and what your audience want to hear.
When I did my first seminar I was practicing a lot, and to be honest I probably practiced too much. You want to practice your presentation and deliver it to co-workers, friends and family. Ask for constructive criticism and work on areas you need to improve upon. Again the more you can practice the more confidence you will have.
Perfect your presentation, and perfect your knowledge. The more knowledge you have on the given subject going into your public speaking the better. If I got asked to present on menswear, self improvement or online business I’d be pretty confident. In fact I probably wouldn’t need to spend much time practicing and perfecting. But if you asked me to present on Dog Training, a subject I have no interest in and no knowledge in I’ll struggle. I’d need to practice, I’d need to prepare and most importantly I’ll need to perfect my knowledge on the subject.
The more knowledge you have on the given subject the better your presentation and also you’ll be able to handle questions better.
Reading from a piece of paper isn’t ideal. I’ve seen people do it, and it’s boring as hell. You want to use prompts to keep you on track, to give you a guideline of what to talk about. You can use bullet points on your slides, you can have key notes on a notepad in front of you which you can subtly reference if stuck… but prompts should be there to help you and shouldn’t be there for you to just read aloud.
So there we have it, 4 tips to improve your public speaking. Let me know what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to connect on social media.