What is it about public speaking that is so damn scary? Public speaking is a base function of nearly every career, industry, and job, yet all around the world, humans’ greatest fear is standing up in front of other humans and talking.
Why is it such a big fear? Don’t we all have to do it at some point or another? No matter how much you might try to convince yourself otherwise, there’s no denying that you get the butterflies in your stomach as you’re walking up to the front of the conference room or on the stage. And while you may not ever give the commencement speech at a Harvard graduation, the likelihood is high that you do need to present frequently for your job.
Yes, that includes those of you who are in the fitness industry. It’s a guarantee that you’ll have to present to potential clients, present to other coaches, teach a workshop, or sell a potential partnership at some point in your career. So public speaking is a part of your job, whether you like it or not.
When it comes to improving your speaking skills, don’t go into it thinking you have to sing and dance on stage. You just have to find a way to speak honestly and authentically in a way that will make people want to listen. Here are three ways to improve your presentation skills that will positively impact your businesses in a huge way:
Practice in Front of a Mirror or Record Yourself
Yes, this feels super awkward at first. Yes, it’s hard to watch yourself, but if you can’t watch yourself in the privacy of your own home with nobody else there to watch you, how are you ever going to present in front of others?
By practicing in front of the mirror or recording yourself, you’ll come face-to-face with all those nervous twitches you subconsciously do but have never noticed before. These little nuances, while small in isolation, can change the way your entire speech is received by others.
We’ve all heard a bad speech before. The speaker looks nervous and keeps playing with their hair, saying “ummmmm,” and they just generally lack confidence. They could be saying the most mind-blowing information you’ve ever heard, but you’d never know because you can only focus on how nervous they are. Confidence plays a huge role, and while it’s not easy to achieve it, it’s something that will have the biggest impact on your speaking and coaching career. Why would anybody follow an unconfident person?
Practice alone until it starts to feel more natural, and the more repetition you fit in, the faster you’ll feel confident in front of others.
Plan Your Speech Way Ahead of Time
This seems obvious, but planning time to plan your speech is of the utmost importance. We have so many distractions and so many things going on in our lives that the stress and anxiety of everyday life can get in the way of a good speech. A lot of our nerves can be solved by knowing our material better and feeling more confident in the message we are trying to deliver. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to plan out your speech and practice it. Tweak it until it feels as close to perfection as is humanly possible.
We already have millions of thoughts running through our minds at any given time without the impact of having to stand in front of other people. Our mind is a busy, loud place. So when I hear other people say, “I know what I want to say. It’s all up in my head, I just have to put it on paper,” let me tell you: I feel the same, and yet I am always SHOCKED at how hard it is to put it all on paper. Getting all your thoughts out of your head and on paper is a great way to see what you’re working with. From there you can start deciding what really needs to be said.
Set aside one or two hours on an off-day to sit and compile all your notes and thoughts and get them into one consolidated source. Not only will you get to read through all these thoughts as you write them but you’ll give yourself the comfort of knowing that everything is written down somewhere safe and you can come back to it if and when you choose. It’s amazing how much this opens up the creative process.
Work with a Coach or Take a Class
Like anything else in our lives, if we truly want to master and improve, we have to be a student, which means we need to find someone more knowledgeable who can share and guide us along the way. There’s no shame in hiring someone to help you improve your public speaking skills. And if you don’t have the capital to spend on one-on-one lessons, you can always take some classes.
There are many courses online that are free. Try Heroic Public Speaking or Procabulary by Mark England. You can also grab the book Steal the Show by Michael Port. And if you really want to make your coaching conversations more effective, check out Conscious Conversations by Mark Fisher and Michael Keeler.
I’ll leave you with a poem called “Our Greatest Fear” by Marianne Williamson:
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?