Master The Art Of Public Speaking
Ah, public speaking. You either love it, just get on with it or it sends you into a state of total and utter despair. Some are born with the natural confidence needed to own a room, others train themselves up and the rest pray that they won’t ever be asked to be best man, become famous or get selected in the office to introduce Mr Fitzherbert to the stage. If you’re the latter in both instances, we hope you find comfort in knowing you’re 100% not alone. And luckily science has got your back by highlighting why your response to public speaking is so negatively intense (so you don’t feel like such an alien). And it’s all to do with that meaty mass on your neck – your brain.
One study found that those who dreaded anything public speaking related “showed a significantly greater increase in anxiety and negative affect during the anticipation” of public speaking. “Heart rate was elevated… (and) a marked increase in right-sided activation in the anterior temporal and lateral prefrontal scalp regions” was noted. With “48% of the variance in the increase in negative affect during the anticipation phase.” No wonder the rest of the day is usually a wipe out for those dreading public speaking. Your brain is working in overtime and your body’s reaction is anxiety-filled just at the thought of doing it, let alone your brain’s reactions while you’re speaking.
There are a few steps you can take to help prepare you, your brain and your body for any form of public speaking. And the main thing to focus on (besides hypnosis, CBT and meditation) is preparation. You know the classic phrase “fail to prepare, prepare to fail?” Well, we think this applies heavily to public speaking, especially when nerves and anxiety come into play and try to dictate the situation. If you can prepare and practice, you WILL survive and maybe, just maybe, nail it too.
On that note, here’s how to survive public speaking if you hate it:
1. Get Engaged
Whoever it is you’re speaking in front of, it’s vital to remember that they have given up their time to listen to you, so make it worth their while. This is easier than you think. If you can make your audience believe that you’ve personalised this speech just for them and want their involvement as much as possible, they’ll instantly shift the way in which they’re listening to you. As a result, you’ll see that they’re eager to hear more and more.
Top tip: Start your speech with an open question, for example if you were talking to the team at Peak you might say: ”What would the world be like if we knew everything about the brain?” This will ignite the energy and interest levels of your listeners from the word go. Make them think, show them that you know their intellect is vast and ask open ended questions that even Steven (who wasn’t supposed to be in this talk but can’t escape now as he’s left it too long) can get involved with.
Plus, have all your notes written down, then rewrite them in less words and write them again until you end up with key bullet points. If the nerves take over on the day, have your long copy to hand so you can cite it word for word if needs be.
2. Talk Less
Not only does Steven want to get out of their sharpish, but so too do the rest of your audience. They’ve got better things to be doing like playing Peak, posting pictures on the office dog channel or microwaving that creamy mushroom soup. Even if someone is totally captivated, they’ll still have these 3 priorities lingering in the back of their minds. Plus, this means you don’t have to totally wear your brain and body out by talking for hours! This increases your survival rate.
Science says our attention spans are upto 7 seconds less than 50 years ago. In fact some findings suggest we have a lower attention span than a goldfish… That’s 7 seconds. Although it’s worth taking these findings with a lorry full of salt sometimes, as findings can vary.
Top tip: Whether you’re talking to the office about next year’s goals, giving a speech on digital marketing trends in 2020 to 500 people or pitching your latest CRM campaign; always stick to a maximum of 3 killer key points.
Point 1. What would our brains be like if we knew how to train them to the max?
- Analyse what we know at the moment, throw in some funnies and some intense facts.
Point 2. If we knew sugar was slowly killing our brains would we stop consuming it?
- Analyse the facts and data and chuck in some shocking science-backed facts.
Point 3. What would life be like if in the future we gave our brains the full attention and accessible optimisation they deserve?
- Create in their minds a life with a fully-optimised brain. The exciting and scary effects it could have on the world.
Top tip: Get your listeners involved with questions such as:
”Raise your hand if you challenge your brain enough?”
”Who here abuses their brain with alcohol, drugs or a lack of sleep?”
”Does anyone who raised their hand want to tell us why they think they do this?”
Getting people involved works a treat. Especially when you create a sharing and open environment where people will end up feeling slightly closer to others in the room.
4. End On A High
Even if you think you ballsed up during your public moment, end on something mind-blowing to make them forget and focus on that instead.
Top tip: You could always end your talk on a thought-provoking question like this: ”If 1 in 10 people currently have Alzheimer’s Disease, what measures will you be willing to take to lower your chances? Thanks for your time everyone.”
5. Répétez S’il Vous Plaît
Top tip: Repeat it over and over again. Until you know what you’re going to say inside-out. Make your voice louder than normal, gesticulate to the max and be ready to ad-lib on the day. With tonnes of studies proving that practice and repetition “leads to improved performance,” it’d be foolish not to.
Everyone quivers (at least a fraction) at the thought of public speaking and if they say they don’t, they’re fibbing. Once it’s done, get to the pub, go to a yoga class or wherever you go to chill the flip out, unwind and have a mini celebration. You did it. Bravo you.
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All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.