I say that because the truth about public speaking--whether you're doing formal keynotes or other speeches, TEDx talks, informal remarks, or a slide presentation--is that success hinges on small, realistic steps. The good news: These resolutions are all within your grasp.
Here, then, are the real resolutions I recommend for public speakers of all kinds. Happy 2015!
- When I'm preparing for a speech or presentation, I will stop pretending that practice involves advancing my slides and silently thinking about what to say. Instead, I'll discover the advantages of real practice in public speaking, and do it out loud, recording myself and later practicing in front of a supportive audience before I ever take the microphone.
- I will actually watch the videos made of my talks before I decide that the talks were awful, and I'll do that using Denise's no-wincing checklist for reviewing the video of your talk. If there are no plans by the organizers to capture video, I'll enlist a pal to do the honors for me.
- When I finish a successful talk or presentation, I'll work on making the most of my speech after it's done, so that I can get better speaking gigs next time.
- I'll publish my speeches, slide presentations and talks in video, audio, and text, along with photos of myself speaking, every time I do, because I understand why it's important to publish my speeches.
- I will stop saying or thinking that I already know everything there is to know about public speaking and get coaching about what's new in presentations and speeches and how I can use new approaches to build on my strengths.
- I will turn down opportunities to be a supporting-role speaker (moderator, introducer, chair) if that's the only kind of speaking I do, and I'll seek opportunities where I am the featured speaker.
- I will not use slides when I am part of a panel discussion, and I will urge others to forego them so that we may, in fact, have a discussion, as well as a prayer of ending on time
- When I move into a new role, I'll ask for speaker coaching as part of my professional development. That might be when I get a promotion, become CEO, get elected to a volunteer officer position in my professional society, win an award, or when I'm asked to speak at a particularly high-powered conference. I'll use the coaching to prepare for the different types of speaking and messages ahead in my new role.
- As a panelist, I will resist the urge to add on to another panelist's answer by agreeing with what she said and repeating it. Instead, I will make a new point of my own.
- I will always allow plenty of time for audience questions, at least one-third to one-half of the time allotted, and thus discover popularity as a speaker.
- When I am nervous before a talk, I will make an effort to avoid jumping ahead in time ("I'm going to die out there") or back in time ("I should have said this instead") or in denial ("I never get nervous"). Instead, I'll just be present, acknowledging, "Hey, I'm nervous and that feels like....." followed by some power posing, smiling or other known antidotes to feeling anxious.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by TEDxSomerville)