Having spoken at more than 150 conferences over the years, it’s easy to take a step back and identify the most popular question I get asked. It isn’t about the company, fundraising, or “how we did that”, rather, it’s about the art of public speaking itself. How do you do that? How do you stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people and speak for an hour with confidence, without being nervous, and without falling on my face on stage.
Make no mistake, it is an art. And like any art, it takes years of practice. Malcolm Gladwell’s principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field of expertise comes to mind here; though it may not take 10,000 hours to become an expert public speaker.
Public speaking begins with the inner confidence to speak in front of an audience. That means everything from your content to your appearance has to be considered. What will make you 110% confident in front of that audience? If you feel that you’re being evaluated for your hair or your outfit, you’ll never be confident in what you’re saying.
Of course, the reason you’re on stage is because of your expertise and the content you will be sharing with the audience. Authenticity is what makes a great speech, and being the expert the audience wants to hear from is your starting point. If you are not fully confident in the content, don’t take the stage. And please, don’t undermine the audience by thinking you can make it through your speech. They will know, and if there’s an opportunity to provide feedback to the conference or yourself, I can guarantee it will be provided.
Be certain in the words you’re going to say and the authenticity of your speech.
(More to come)