⇥ Dress: Missguided | Bag: Coach | Sandals: Chinese Laundry
Raise your hand if public speaking gives you heart palpitations.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram feed, then you’re aware that I just participated in one of the most stressful, terrifying, yet exciting public speaking engagements of my life possibly ever – I spoke at a Tedx Event!
The relief I feel now that it’s over is beyond an understatement. For a solid 2 months I’ve been preparing for that moment, and was getting nervous by each day that approached Saturday, April 7. I’ve spoken on panels, held workshops, and given presentations to large groups before but for some reason this particular speaking engagement shook me to my anxious core from the get-go. I’m not gonna lie, I stumbled over my intro and still re-living the moment where my mind went completely blank…
Let’s hope they edit that part out of the official video which will be on the website in 3 weeks lol
But despite that mini moment of blacking out, I got through it and finished very strong! At the end of the day, there were so many things that contributed to me being able to get up there and speak to begin with. If I had to do it all over again, then I’d be more than eager at this point after going through this experience.
Here are some things I did to prepare for this public speaking engagement:
Leading Up To The Big Day
MAKE AN OUTLINE & WRITE OUT YOUR SCRIPT
Go back to what you’ve learned in all your English/Literature classes & start with an outline: Topic Sentence, Intro, (3+) Supporting Examples, Conclusion
When you have your words organized, writing out a speech becomes practically automatic. I was able to really narrow down what I wanted to cover in my 12 minutes of speaking and ensure the strongest examples would be covered thanks to having it structured. This also allowed practicing my speech out loud much easier to go about
WATCH EXAMPLE VIDEOS OF SIMILAR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
I probably watched 20 different Tedx Talks in preparation for my speech. This helped me understand how to deliver my speech and what I should strive to accomplish as well. Because of this, I quickly understood that all these speakers presented without notecards or any sort of guidance from their slides. Therefore, I made sure to do the same and not have anything spelled out for me. Which meant I had to practice without any sort of safety net, a lot.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Considering I didn’t have the help of notecards or slides to trigger any thoughts I’d might miss to cover, I needed to practically memorize my script and have it down pat mentally. I did this by rehearsing alone AND in front of my family & friends. Doing this made me feel more comfortable delivering in front of others and I was able to receive some feedback in how I could improve getting my point(s) across in the best form for my audience to comprehend.
Another consideration is to video yourself practicing – by doing this, you can see physically how you carry yourself when speaking and make any necessary adjustments while practicing.
The Night Before & The Day Of
PREPARE WHAT YOU’RE PLANNING TO WEAR
Try on the outfit you have in mind the night before or possibly a few days prior. Wear something appropriate for the speaking engagement, leaning more towards smart casual rather than overly stylish. In my mind, I chose to wear something that was reflective of my career (life & style blogger) but also an outfit I would feel comfortable wearing to a dinner or work meeting that wasn’t fashion-related.
Lay out your outfit, pack your bag with all your essentials (hair ties, tide-to-go, lip gloss, gum, etc.) and set 2 alarms so you have the max amount of time to shower and do your hair & makeup. Personally, I opted for getting my hair done at a salon the morning of because I didn’t want to stress over my hair not looking the way I imagined it to. That was one more thing that was taken care of and helped to alleviate stress the morning of.
ARRIVE EARLY & WATCH SPEAKERS BEFORE YOU
Get to the location with a few hours to spare before you’re scheduled to go on. This will help you get in the zone, adjust to your surroundings, and watch how other speakers are performing. You might get some last minute ideas on how to utilize the stage and help you feel less nervous witnessing what the other speakers are going through. I felt a lot better knowing not everyone had a perfect presentation, so I didn’t put as much pressure on myself to give a mind-blowing performance. As long as I did my best, I would be happy with my experience.
PRACTICE POSITIVE VISUALIZATION
Run through your speech once or twice to keep your ideas fresh, but also practice it with the mindset that you’ve already succeeded. When you start imagining how well you’re speaking, the nervous energy will turn into excitement and eagerness to present. Imagine how good you will feel standing on that stage, totally prepared with what you’re going to say and how much you know about the topic being shared. When you treat yourself with an “I Got This” attitude, you can’t lose!
Last Minute Mental Reminders
YOU’RE THE EXPERT
The audience has no idea what you’re going to share with them, so don’t stress yourself out if you don’t cover every single thing you practiced. They won’t know the difference and won’t even notice if you forgot to mention something, even if you blank for a moment and need to free style to get your idea across. More often than not, choosing to read/speak “off the script” ends up being a stronger moment for your overall presentation.
The best speeches are the one’s that come from the heart. Show your personality: smile, laugh, be a touch vulnerable. Your audience will remember you as someone they could relate to if you speak to them as you would a friend, and getting your point across will be much stronger in their eyes.
REMIND YOURSELF TO APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY
At the end of the day, you’ve been chosen to speak at this particular engagement. The fact you’re even participating, putting yourself out there, and doing it is such an accomplishment in itself! You should feel proud to be a part of this opportunity at the end of the day.
Always remember that the audience wants you to succeed, and they will be on your side no matter what. Trust me, there’s a reason they came to watch YOU and not volunteering themselves for the job ;]
I hope some of these tips & reminders will help you feel more relaxed if you’re preparing for a public speaking engagement now or down the road!