3 Tips for Becoming an Influential Speaker | #RTYBtips Episode 9
Aloha and welcome back to my blog! In today’s post I am going to teach you three tips for becoming an influential public speaker.
If you’re new here, welcome, my name is Ella and I help you retrain your brain! If you don’t know anything about me yet, back in 2008 I survived a hemorrhagic stroke and a slew of mental health struggles before and after that. It took me until 2018 to start turning that rock bottom feeling I had into my breakthrough and I have not looked back since. Now, I post YouTube videos and blog posts every other week to teach you how to turn your rock bottom into your breakthrough. If you don’t want to miss any up coming posts, make sure you subscribe here. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram where I am more active day-to-day.
Let’s start with a little secret …
I used to hate public speaking. IT was my all time biggest fear and whenever I did presentations, my face would go cherry-red! It was very embarrassing. So not only was I nervous before and during my presentation, I would be embarrassed afterword because my face went so red.
But here’s the funny part: I was never nervous to crack jokes in front of the class or to play soccer in front of a crowd. I was also a very extroverted person. So why could I do somethings in front of a crowd but not others?
I figured out the answer – I was confident in my humor so I had no fear cracking jokes in front of a crowd. I was also confident in my ability to play soccer so I wasn’t afraid to play in front of a crowd. That meant I needed to get confident in my ability to speak well. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of being in front of other people; rather, I was afraid that I wouldn’t speak well in front of other people.
So what makes somebody a good public speaker? I think there are three main things you need (1) the ability to speak confidently and with knowledge of your subject / presentation, (2) speak with enthusiasm and passion, and (3) speak clearly (i.e. do not mumble). Let’s address each of those components using my three tips for becoming a better public speaker.
… or maybe I should say “less notes.” TO make proper notes, you must divide your presentation into main talking points and only write those points on your note cards. The more you look down at your notes, the less you’ll appear to have knowledge on your subject.
I often hear (and I used to think), “but if I don’t write all my notes, I’ll forget what to say!”
That’s true. It’s the honest truth. You might actually forget what to say.
But that’s why I want you to over-prepare for your talk. Know it so well that saying one line cues you to saying the next line without you having to think about it (is anyone else thinking about habit right now or is it just me?!) If you forget what to say, I don’t want you to rely on your notes for a reminder, I want you to rely on your knowledge of the material.
Let’s start this tip with a personal story:
After my stroke, I was diagnosed with dysarthria (slurring of the words due to weakened muscles). When I returned to school, I was in a grade 9 science class where I was required to do a 1 page project on an element in the periodic table – my element was silver.
Silver just so happened to be a difficult word for me to pronounce; due to the dysarthria, I had trouble saying “R” sounds. When it came for my time to present my project, I pronounced the words “silver” like “sil-veh” (similar to how a toddler might). The classed laughed and honestly I did too! It was a funny moment, but it also was a sign that I needed to start practicing my speech.
That leads me to the tip. And I should mention, this was a tip that my lovely speech language pathologist shared with me.
What I want you to do is pick a coloured highlighter (let’s go with yellow) and I want you to highlight any word in your notes that you need to focus on annunciate. If I used this tip during my grade 9 science presentation, I would’ve highlighted “silver.”
Seeing this yellow highlight is going to act as a cue for you to slow down and say the word clearly.
3) Slow Down and Breathe!
This tip may seem like a silly one at first – I mean, do I really need to remind you breathe?
Well, the answer is yes! When we get nervous, our heart rate speeds up and we might actually forget to breathe! You might also be so eager to finish the presentation that you’ll speed through as fast as you can.
I want you to slow down! Slow down your heart rate and take big deep breaths.
The way you can do this is by getting another highlighter (let’s go with pink this time) and drawing a long pink line from the left side of your note card to the right. You can draw this line any where during your presentation when you think you’ll need to slow down.
Don’t believe me that this is a useful tip? Well then, how many times have you timed a presentation while speaking to an empty room then ended up going through the presentation much quicker when presenting it in front of an audience? I know I’ve done that!
Depending on where you’re doing this presentation, you can get a friend in the audience to hold up pink and yellow sheets of paper to serve as your reminders. This is another great way to keep your eyes up and not constantly on your notes.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.