Thursday, September 29, 2016

My favorite fixes for public speaking: Hide before and after your talk

As a speaker coach, it's my job to keep a lot of tools in my toolbox to help my clients improve their public speaking. But just like any craftsman, I have a few go-to tools, well-worn from frequent use. This is the fifth and final post in a series of five favorite fixes I turn to all the time. Each one sounds simple, but confers a complex array of benefits to public speakers...if only you will do them. I'm sharing each favorite fix along with the types of speakers who might benefit most from them. You'll get the best results if you try them not once, but over a period of time.

This week's favorite fix is to hide before and after your talk. And by "hide," I mean get away from other people, no matter how nice or important they are. Hiding might take you to the toilet, a nearby stairwell, a walk around the block or in the park across the street, down an empty hallway. Be sure someone knows you're stepping away ("I have to make a quick call" should do it) and make sure you return well in time for your presentation. Just use the time to be quiet.

The idea here is to avoid frittering away your energy on small talk with the organizers or other attendees or backstage crew, and to save it for when you need it, on stage. Don't fill the time playing with your smart phone, either. Just get yourself mentally prepared for going on stage or in front of the room. Neuroscientists have found that multitasking drains your brain's energy reserves.

This is a good fix essential for speakers who are at all introverted, and those who are extremely introverted may need more time alone in advance and following a talk. But it's also a good fix for extroverts who are stressed about their presentations, since stress makes an extrovert feel like an introvert, a highly uncomfortable and foreign experience for them. Don't forget to have a little quiet recovery time in that hallway or stairwell after the talk, too. Then you'll be able to have some energy for chatting with the organizer and participants.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Florian Richter)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of SpeechIt's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.