CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – OCTOBER 17, 2020
Before I launch into this topic, I want to say this: teaching is SO MUCH MORE than public speaking.
I don’t believe good public speakers necessarily make good teachers. In fact, often, they’re terrible. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning; not to talk ALL THE CHUFFING TIME.
However, I do believe that improving your public speaking skills can have a positive and powerful effect on your teaching, but probably not for the reason you think.
I mean, yes, working on your speaking skills focuses you on communicating clearly. That’s important.
But the most positive outcome is this: you appear confident. While you may not feel confident on the inside, you project confidence to everyone around you. This will elevate your teaching to a higher level.
In business, we call it relationship marketing. You aim to project yourself in such a way that prospective customers will begin to know, like and trust you.
Teaching isn’t that different really. You want your learners to know, like and trust you so you have the opportunity to create a learning environment in which they thrive and have the best chance of success.
Mini rant over.
What follows are my thoughts on how to improve your public speaking if you are faced with the terrifying task of giving a speech or talk.
Public Speaking is Terrifying
Every single time I talk to a group of people I experience the same feelings: fear, anxiety and an overwhelming desire to be sick. Even preparing to podcast (ahem… that’s basically talking to myself) gives me butterflies.
But I love it.
And apparently, I look like I love it too. After a talk, people often ask, “Were you nervous?” My immediate reply is always, “Yes, terrified”. My response surprises them.
Despite the fact that I find public speaking nerve-wracking, I love it, and I can present in a confident, capable way.
How is That Possible?
With careful preparation, as well as the use of specific routines, I can reduce my fear to a manageable level. I have learned to re-frame my nerves positively.
We learn stress and anxiety are bad, and more often than not, they are.
But pre-performance nerves, whether you are a speaker, athlete, teacher, or actor, can be an asset. You just need to know how to transform those nerves from negative to positive.
A Bit of Biology
It’s useful to understand what happens to our bodies when we are nervous. It’s all about the brain. Your brain has one important job – to keep you alive. It makes your organs work and keeps you safe.
When you are in a potentially dangerous situation, for example, standing in front of a group of people, preparing to speak, you experience the feeling of fear.
In response to your fear, your brain releases adrenaline and other stress hormones such as cortisol in preparation for a “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline super-charges you so that you’ve got extra energy and power for fight or flight. It’s amazing – you can even see and hear better.
The more fearful you are, the greater the adrenaline surge.
How Does This Help Me?
If you perceive a situation to be utterly terrifying, there is going to be a lot of adrenaline shooting through your body. A bit of adrenaline is good. Too much adrenaline is going to make you feel awful (heart thumping, sweating, panic… you’ll be opting for “flight” any moment).
The brain does not know what you are scared of – it only knows your emotional reaction to the thing that scares you. If you are feeling terrified, it’s going flood your body with adrenaline. If you are only mildly scared, less adrenaline is needed. That’s the key.
If you can make the prospect of speaking in public seem less scary, your body will not produce as much adrenaline. You can do this through practice, careful preparation and routine.
The second thing we can do is carefully manage the remaining adrenaline and use it positively.
Here are some strategies to help before, during, and after your public speaking engagement.
Become A Better Speaker
If you know you are a good public speaker, your feeling of confidence will dramatically reduce your fear.
The more public speaking you do, the more confident you become. You’ll still feel some nerves – this is healthy. Anyone who walks into a public speaking gig with no nerves at all is cocky. Cocky people aren’t engaging. They are irritating.
If you are new to public speaking you need to practice, but not necessarily in front of others at this stage. That comes later.
One of the best ways to improve your public speaking is to record yourself and listen back. Video is better than audio, but let’s take one step at a time. It’s going to make you cringe but do it anyway.
Listen out for:
Verbal fillers: for example, “umm” and “err”. We use fillers because gaps in speech make us uncomfortable. Also, they buy us “thinking time”. Verbal fillers can irritate your audience*. After a while, it’s all they can hear. They focus on counting the number of times you say “like” and ignore your actual message completely. Try to minimise your use of verbal fillers and instead, just pause. A pause can be incredibly engaging. Popular TED speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, demonstrates this beautifully. He’s also got fantastic comic timing – if you want to see a master public speaker at work, watch as much Sir Ken as much as you can.
Pace: the excess adrenaline caused by fear makes everything move a bit more quickly. In a traditional “fight or flight” situation, it would be your legs or fists moving fast. When you are giving a talk, it will be your breathing and speech that speed up. Public speaking is very different to conversing with just one person. You need to remember your audience is made up of lots of different individuals. Perhaps some speak English as a second language or are not familiar with your accent. You want to speak to be understood by all, so you must speak more slowly than normal. It will feel odd, but re-record yourself speaking more slowly and listen. Also, practice pausing.
Mouth sounds: microphones pick up the (utterly gross) sound a dry mouth makes. Nerves will make your mouth dry. Drink water before giving your speech (not too much – remember the effects adrenaline can have on your bladder) and if possible, have water available during your talk.
*I am aware I used some verbal fillers on my podcast (“so” is a favorite). I’m aiming for a very conversational style for the show, and as such, I leave fillers in so it sounds natural. This article is about formal public speaking where different standards apply.
Once you’ve practiced alone, it’s time to bring in some trusted friends for feedback. Your family are either going to be too kind or too harsh when it comes to giving feedback (I learned that one the hard way!) Find trusted friends who will provide genuine, constructive feedback. Ask them to identify what you are doing well, and your areas for improvement.
END of PART ONE
Make it a champion day!
From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer. Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.
Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. ShopSmartAutos.com took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.
Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit RichieBelloBlogs.com. https://www.itworld.com/article/2783373/gm-warns-dealers-about-working-with-pure-play-online-auto-sellers.html