What do you do when you feel like no one is listening when you are public speaking? Do you suffer from rushed public speaking? (Hurrying as fast as you can because you know people don’t really want to listen to you anyway?) We ask Ginger’s founder Sarah Lloyd-Hughes who shares with us the three ways to overcome rushed public speaking…
I am by nature quite confident and out-going but always want to get any public speaking I do over and done with as quickly as possible. Speaking 1-2-1 I have a lot to say for myself, but when in front of others I do tend towards brevity. It’s like I feel “no one’s really interested, so say what I have to say and get off”. Prepared/written speeches are quite easy for me, it’s more when I have to speak off-the cuff that my mind goes blank, or appears to…
First off, thank you for your email. This is a very common feeling we have as public speakers. If speaking in public isn’t an environment you swim about in day-to-day, your nerves will be heightened by the task. You may feel pretty silly standing up to talk, your brain then chips in with a resounding ‘No, don’t make me!’ and there’s that voice inside your head dying to tell you how much people are judging you. ‘Whatever you do, don’t waste people’s time. And for god’s sake, don’t screw up.’
There’s so much I want to tell you. So many things about body language and being memorable and learning confidence and how to challenge your inner saboteur and and and… I could go on and on here. But I won’t, hence the litany of links.
Here are three key tips that will help you overcome the urge to rush your speaking:
1. Focus on your reason for speaking.
If you’re just speaking to ‘take up time’, it will feel rather pointless – and no wonder you’ll want to rush through it. There is too much meaningless or ego-centric speaking out there anyway, so why add to it? But if you have a good reason to speak you will be willing to take up the time and space of your audience. A good reason to speak might be:
- You have some information that would benefit your audience
- You could improve their day a little bit through your energy
- You have a new perspective that hasn’t been heard before
- People will be more comfortable if you show leadership
- They want to hear you speak, even if you don’t want it!
Notice that all of these reasons focus more on your audience than they do on you & your nerves.
2. Take up space
When we’re nervous, we tend to hide in some way; through shrinking our body language, or rushing through our material. It’s all ways of saying ‘I’m not important enough.’
Once you’ve found your reason for speaking, it’s time to assert it through your body language and vocal delivery. Bring your awareness to some of the following:
- Your posture: Allow your shoulders to open and your vital organs to receive oxygen. Oxygen has a pacifying affect on nerves, so the more open your body, the more calm you’ll feel.
- Your positioning: Do you hide at the back of the stage (or wherever you’re speaking from), or allow yourself to feel comfortable in the spotlight? As soon as you look confident your audience will feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing, which will positively reinforce your actual feeling of confidence.
- Your eye contact: Are you willing to let your audience see you? Practice looking them in the eyes and being seen as a speaker. It feels weird for a moment, but very quickly you’ll realise you’re meant to be there.
- Your speed of speaking: An audience can’t keep up with super fast speaking, so it’s little wonder they switch off when someone’s racing through their material. Focus on slowing down and emphasizing your key moments; if you make it sound important, your audience will think it is important. Take your time.
3. Find your Own Style
Believe it or not Gary, for most of my younger years I was terrified of public speaking. It was simply the worst thing I could imagine doing. One of the things that made me nervous was the established approach to public speaking. When I looked for advice, all I found was a series of rules:
- Good public speakers do eye contact like this
- Good public speakers don’t fiddle as they’re speaking
- Good public speakers don’t show that you’re nervous
- Good public speakers stand here
- Good public speakers say this sort of thing…
Above all, those rules were shouting, “Don’t be yourself, be someone else.”
What I realised was that the more we try to be someone else as a speaker – the more we lose what makes us appealing in our own way. I found the Six Qualities of an Inspiring Speaker… read more about them here.
Most of all Gary, give yourself permission to experiment. We don’t all start at the same place. The very best job you can do is bring that charisma you have when you’re one-on-one and inject it into your public speaking. You know you’ve got “it”… it’s just about practicing fearlessness and bringing it to several-on-one. Remember that your audience wants to hear what you have to say and that our own worst enemy is ourselves.
Best wishes in all your endeavors… be yourself and let YOU shine through and you’ll be brilliant.