Do you get anxious, nervous, or fearful at the thought of speaking in front of a group of people?
I once did too.
Still do at times!
I’m sure that no matter how anxious you are about an opportunity, you don’t want to just “get through it” or “get it over with.”
You want to make a difference.
How can you overcome fear and anxiety and do just that? You focus on “pasting” the message on your hearers’ hearts from preparation to presentation.
How so? P.A.S.T.E.
Prepare early. Take time to let the topic simmer in your mind and heart. Begin laying out an outline in your mind.
Then put pen to paper, or fingers to keypad.
Write out a manuscript. This helps you organize your thoughts and say things well. If you’re able, prepare at least three weeks out.
If you’re not really passionate about your topic, then get passionate about it. Research it and think of stories, analogies, illustrations, and such that are helpful.
Think of the people listening who truly want to know what you have to say about the topic (no matter how their faces look).
Read and re-read your manuscript.
Write out an outline from your manuscript. You might also try mind-mapping. This will help you get the material and flow deeper into your mind.
Begin imagining yourself speaking the material as you read it. Do this about seven days before the event.
The fourth day out, begin actually speaking the material out loud as if you’re presenting it to a room of people. Note any places where you get kinked up. Be alert to anything you want to state or explain better and make notes.
Speaking the material out loud versus simply reading it through is COMPLETELY different. You will discover oddities, and even come up with ideas, stories, and illustrations, as you voice the material.
Also, keep in mind the audience is your friend. You don’t read to a friend. You speak to a friend.
Speak the material out loud twice a day for the next couple of days.
One day out, rehearse one time.
The day of the presentation, get up early and rehearse one more time. Then put it away and out of mind.
About one hour before your presentation, sit down with your outline, mind-map, notes, or manuscript, and scan it briefly while viewing yourself speaking it.
Now you’ve ABSORBED it.
Spit it out
Be confident. You’ve prepared hard. You’ve absorbed well.
Now go for it.
Don’t overthink it now.
If your heart is racing, take deep breaths before you take the platform and subtly as you speak. Channel any anxiousness into gratitude, passion, and joy for the opportunity.
If your hands are shaking while speaking, you’re fine. It is what it is. Just avoid holding anything in your hands. Hold on to the lectern (or whatever) on and off as you speak as a way of centering yourself.
Feel compassion for the people to get your mind off of yourself.
If you missed saying something from your notes, or you say something out of order, not planned, or stated in a way that was different from your preparation, no-one knows but you. So let it be and keep going.
Let it fly with confidence and passion!
Why did you work so hard in your preparation to speak? Preparation tames nervousness. But there’s much more to it.
You worked hard because you love the people in the room.
Or you better.
Consider your listeners. Almost everyone is going through a hard time. Everyone.
Feel their humanity and struggle.
Whether you’re speaking on computer programming or human trafficking, it doesn’t matter. If you “feel” for the people, your care and compassion will show.
The more you feel for the people, the more your eyes will be off yourself and on them too.
And speak with a smile.
You will never feel more vulnerable, raw, and naked, than after you speak in front of a group of people.
Still, get feedback from two – three people. Ask them to share three positive things, and then three areas where you can grow.
It will sting, and hurt. Be strong, receive it well. Apply it.
Keep in mind, you are not a perfect communicator, nor will you ever be. You will have done some things well. But there will be massive room for growth.
You will have to brace yourself for the feedback and take it on the chin in order to grow in the craft.
If you can, have your presentation recorded. Video is best, but audio is better than nothing.
Have a pen and memo-pad in front of you and evaluate yourself. You will have cringe-worthy moments. That’s part of the deal.
You’re learning. You’re growing. You’re on your way to being a strong communicator!
Take any opportunity to speak in front of a group no matter how small. The more you do it the better you’ll get, and the more comfortable you’ll become.
You’ll always have to deal with the butterflies (at least I do), but you’ll learn to direct those butterflies to work for you instead of hinder you.
Now you’re ready to go paste your message on people’s hearts. You can do it! I believe in you!
One final thought. And this may be the most important….
Have a blast!