– From HR Monthly Magazine, Australia
I was very shy and nervous in my early years at school. In class I would become upset at the littlest thing. Tears would be guaranteed if I was asked to speak in front of the class.
I remember being sat in the deputy head teacher’s office with my mum. Back then we had to choose our options for study up to the age of 16. I wanted to take drama. I can honestly say now, I have no idea where that idea came from. They wanted me to focus on academic subjects like history. I convinced them over half an hour that drama was the subject for me. In the end they agreed.
I studied drama for 3 years at school and chose to register for a weekly group at the local theatre. At first I felt totally overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone. I felt fear and immense insecurity about attending class. Over the weeks and months that followed, I slowly saw my confidence and self-esteem grow and my fears gently dissipated. Drama classes had a huge impact on my confidence and over time the tears in class became less frequent.
Upon finishing school I decided to leave drama classes behind. I trained to be a teacher. The stressful role caused me to experience severe IBS symptoms (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). My body was telling me to step back from the stress and to address my work-life balance.
Instead of taking medication I decided to learn everything I needed to manage my symptoms. In doing so I went from being a UK size 16 to a size 6 and now have no IBS symptoms.
My story is one of personal mastery. I decided I wanted to share it with the world so I wrote a book.
When this launched, I was inundated with opportunities to speak at events. Fear and insecurity hit me like a ton of bricks when that first request came in. It was like being back at school again.
Let’s fast forward a few years. I speak internationally on stages about my personal mastery journey and outline the key strategies. Do I get nervous? Of course. Over the years I have developed ways to reduce the stress and anxiety I feel and by mastering this I was recently awarded Speaker of the Year in the UK.
HOW TO GET STARTED
The one thing I wasn’t taught about public speaking is how to get started. If I had known this back when I started, it would have helped me to get going much quicker.
- Firstly, choose an area that you are an expert in and you can speak comfortably about.
- Craft your speech. Don’t leave it to chance that you will deliver the best presentation of your career.
- Deliver value to the audience. The speech is about them – not you. Does your speech pass the ‘So What’ test and give them something useful they can use in their life and/or work?
- Gain experience. Look for opportunities at work: offer to lead meetings, present a topic in your team meetings or speak to the management team. Look into opportunities at relevant clubs, non-profit organisations, charities, professional organisations in your industry or student groups.
- Nerves. Develop techniques or a ritual to reduce the impact of nerves. This will ensure you deliver a clear and concise message without stumbling over your words.
- Record the audio and/or video footage of you speaking. This can be used for your personal learning and growth as well as for promotional purposes.
- Practice and prepare fully for every presentation. Leave nothing to chance. The more practice you can get, the more refined your message will be and the more impact you will have on the audience.
What impact do you want to leave with your audience with?
THE 6 COMMON PITFALLS
Over the years I have identified (and experienced) 6 common pitfalls that speakers can fall into.
1. Reading verbatim from slides or handouts. A big no-no. Not only does this frustrate the audience, they will be distracted by you looking over your shoulder for ‘what’s next.’ You will look both unprofessional and unprepared – not a good look.
2. Thinking ‘I will just hope for the best.’ If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Rehearse and practice the transitions, words, gestures and movements. Saying it out loud and whilst standing up will enable you to hear any clunky words or phrases and hone your presentation. Why not do a dry run in front of your friends or peers?
3. Low energy. In a room full of people your energy should be infectious. Turn up your energy by 10 notches on a dial. Command attention and exude confidence, passion and charisma right from the start.
4. Not knowing who your audience are. Find out their aspirations and obstacles and ask questions before your presentation to make sure you know what is expected of you from the organisers.
5. Using small scale gestures and movements and fidgeting on stage. Not only will you look uncomfortable, you will make the audience feel uncomfortable AND you will lose impact. Don’t look like an apology on stage. Look like you own the stage.
6. Presenting too much information. Not only will you run over the allotted time but you will also look manic trying to rush through it all. Aim for 1 main point and consider a mnemonic for the audience to remember the key elements of your presentation. This mnemonic will act as a frame for the audience to know where they are in your speech.
Being aware of these pitfalls will enable you to develop the strategies and tools to overcome them, before they take hold.
What will you do today to get started on your public speaking journey and hone your presentations?
Keep me posted on Facebook with your progress and let us know what is working for you.
ABOUT GINA BATTYE
Described as “Britain’s equivalent to Oprah Winfrey”, Gina Battye is one of the world’s hottest rising stars.
Gina is an internationally sought after & award-winning spiritual teacher & author, creator of Soul Quest™ and THE LGBTQ advocate in the spiritual world.
Gina Battye is here to do the Soul Work with those that are ready to begin their journey to discover who they really are.
Soul Quest™ is a 6 month, hands-on self-discovery programme for spiritual, heart centred women who want more confidence, self-belief and self-esteem.
Confidence, self-belief, worry, anxiety, self-esteem and self-worth. No stone is left unturned.
For more about Gina’s Soul Quest™ visit http://www.ginabattye.com