When I was five years of age, I was into public speaking.
I WAS A YOUNG AUTHOR
My school hosted an annual competition for the most talented writer. Of course, I won! I won four years straight, and the only reason I did not win the full five years was because I simply forgot to submit that year. My point is, I learned public speaking at the age of five, but there is a secret I have to let you in on, my friend: I was always nervous. I was always worried about my tongue slipping; I was always worried about my appearance; I was always worried. Period. I never came to realize that, later on in life, I would become a Public Speaking Coach, and that is an accomplishment.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS A PHOBIA
DId you know that public speaking is actually a phobia? It is a term even a common spellcheck will correct: glossophobia, where roughly 75 percent of our population now resides. The idea that this is a DSM-5 criteria listing shows the science behind this. When we speak in public, we go through a cognitive process where the ends begin to justify the means. We feel prepared in our presentation; we feel ready to enter the classroom, the lecture hall, or the conference room…and then the moment we take a step forward, we freeze up. This is because we perceive ourselves from a third-party perspective: suddenly we see ourselves float out of our bodies and disappear high above…
…INTO THE SPOTLIGHTS
That fear can be trained, however, but first we need to establish the protective bubble we have found ourselves in as a species. We are anthropologically engrained to feel that only those with high status are meant to be heard. In tribal days, the most known speaker was the pack leader, and we were meant to respect them. Combine that with judgmental eyes and we have ourselves a bit of a situation. But there are ways to mitigate this fear, and they are in simple order. Though I typically do not discuss public speaking as a science, I would like to indulge you.
FIRST STEP: PRACTICE
Though many say that practicing delays momentum, i.e. it is best to just jump right on in, I do feel there is a need to do some memorization tricks. Mnemonic devices help, where you take (as a broad example) mental “shortcuts” to recall what you memorized. An example comes from a recent lecture I did: I was having trouble recalling something I could never possibly memorize without a mnemonic device. So, I was able to put the words into an acronym. Rather than memorizing the words: “Social Distancing Disorder,” I made it “S.D.D.” That simple yet successful trick was able to allow me to finish. When you practice, start by writing the full script, and then breaking it down into smaller parts. This simple trick has helped thousands, and it can help you, too. Try it out!
SECOND STEP: PATIENCE
Give yourself time to think. The one thing I see many of my clients performing is what I call: “Demotivation.” Well, that is obviously not my own trademarked term (and no, you are not required to pay me to say that word!), the Demotivating Factor is when you forget to pump yourself up. They skim over their notecards; they anxiously cram every single word into their minds, and this does two things. One: it causes stress, which cuts off oxygenic pathways to our brain that constrict the blood vessels. Instead, take some time to motivate yourself, to pump yourself up, to say: “I got this!” and to avoid negative self-talk. In other words, “patience is a virtue.”
Be prepared, but overpreparation is as bad as its counterpart.
THIRD STEP: OWN THE ROOM
This is where we get to the section where thought bubbles cartoonishly appear over your heads.
How do you own a room? In public speaking, there is more to this than staring at your notecards. Rather, you should not need the notecards at all. In fact, if you do need notecards, make a joke about it! People love an opening remark such as: “Excuse me while I take a moment to review my lack of preparation…” In fact, one time I recall having to take a sip of water. I did not want to step away from the topic, but my mouth was dry. So, I took a sip and stated simply: “Excuse me, water break. I hate it, I always have to pee after lectures.” Though unfortunately nobody got the joke, it did help keep me on track. It also kept me able to speak, as what can I say! I have a dry mouth!
TO CONCLUDE THE CONCLUSION
Actually, this is not the end. I can only summarize so much in a short blog, which I try to always keep below 1000 words. So, as I near word number “809,” according to WordPress, I want you to stay tuned, as I will be releasing a sequel to this in the future. Remember, you cannot memorize a speech; that is impossible. But what you can do is realize that if you do things right, you will not have to! If you need help with public speaking, or want to inquire about this, you may feel free to post your questions below. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @circle5books.
Own that room, my friend. Own that room…