I’ve spoken publicly for 20+ years. Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned over the years.
1. Be Yourself
There is only one of you in the world. You be you.
Don’t try to be someone else. When I started speaking I tried to mimic a person I admired. It didn’t last long. I had to be me.
Be yourself. It takes far less energy than trying to be someone else.
2. Be Vulnerable
Let your guard down. People know when you are being real with them or not.
The more vulnerable you are, the easier people can connect with you. Share a personal story about yourself, even if it might expose one of your weaknesses/struggles.
People identify with honesty and transparency.
3. Humor is important
Ok, if you’re not funny at all, skip this. Remember, be yourself.
But, if you even have the slightest sense of humor, use it. Humor is a great way to cut through the tension of a room. Humor is a great way to keep people relaxed and interested. Humor also can be used to illustrate certain truths.
Don’t try to be a stand up comedian, and don’t let the humor distract from the message. But, use it.
4. Be Prepared
Don’t just wing it. Spend time preparing.
Do your research. Write notes. Study what others have done with a similar topic. Giving a 30 minutes presentation? It might take you 30 hours to prepare. It might take you 15 hours. It really depends on your experience and the topic at hand.
However long it takes, don’t wait till the last minute.
5. Mark up your notes
Use pens and highlighters to emphasize certain points.
I underline key truths with a blue pen. I highlight references I want to give in yellow. I write “ILL” down my page to denote an illustration I will use. I highlight, in pink or orange, sections in my notes that correspond to a slide I’m presenting.
Use your own system to mark your notes.
6. Number your notes
If you use notes, as I do, number the pages.
It’s easy to lose your place, or drop a note on the floor; which can derail the entire presentation. If you number each page, it helps you get back to where you need to be.
Numbering also helps you know the pace of your presentation. If you’re through page 4 of 8, then you know you’re about 1/2 done.
7. Relax and enjoy it
It is a great blessing to share your thoughts/ideas to others.
You’ve prepared for this. Don’t be gripped with fear or anxiety. Relax. Breathe. Smile. Your moment on stage, whether it’s 5 minutes or 35 minutes, will be over in a blink of an eye.
Make the most of it.
Exodus 4:11-12, “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”