As part of my mission to THRIVE in 2019, I’ve said yes to a couple of things (it is only January!) Both happen to take the form of Public Speaking.
Public Speaking isn’t new to me.
It is something I’d like to be better at though.
By the way, this is a long post so put the kettle on first!
I have given talks to small groups on blogging, I’ve given “how to” demonstrations as a makeup artist. I have done spur of the moment “thanks” speeches when no one else in the room would volunteer. Also, I’ve been interviewed on live Radio. I’ve given talks about my artwork, including slides of said artwork, to a full lecture theatre. I’ve over two years of teaching Art & Design to 11-16-year-olds, enticing them into getting on and getting into the work they were creating.
All of the above are different types of public speaking. I’m much more comfortable in the workshop/demonstrating type than any other. I realise this is probably because I’m less vulnerable, I’m showing less of myself and more of the process the students are trying to learn.
The public speaking engagements I’ve agreed to do (more on what they are nearer the time) are a little more personal. More about me and my journey, how I’ve arrived where I currently am. So they are out of my comfort zone.
I decided to ask some creative women I know for their best tips on Public Speaking.
In doing so I thought it would make a great post, I imagine useful for many of us that want to try doing more of this type of thing.
Make sure you read all these as each one has some brilliant nuggets on public speaking, and there’s a couple of book suggestions (currently on my Need list) at the end.
Ashanti Jason of AdornGirl Photography
I have run practical creative workshops and presentations, and it can be so nerve-wracking especially when you have to hold the attention of the room. How I gather my nerves is practice, practice and a little more practice. I am not too rigid to a script. Instead, I make a baseline for how I will introduce myself and some bullet points about the varying topics of what I will cover.
Bullet points are great as they are a reminder of what I need to say, it is so important to remain engaged with your audience, and not tethered to reading from a piece of paper. I run it through a few times before the big day so I have a good idea of what I am going to say, but there is still wiggle room to add extra and takes away the fear of waffling, or not covering the important message at hand.
Jen Stanbrook of StyleBrief
Firstly, it’s always best to speak about something you’re confident in and have a good knowledge of. I have a couple of ways of dealing with nerves – be well prepared (I’m not great at thinking on my feet), make sure you’re speaking in your own words and not someone else’s, AND I practise my first sentence or two over and over. I know that once I have those sorted, the rest will follow. It’s definitely helped my Pinterest business and brought in extra clients and it’s great for your profile. I find if I’m reading from notes or cards I get distracted, I much prefer for it to flow and sound more natural so I do it much more off the cuff.
When I did QVC a big part of the training was to smile. I know it sounds daft, but smiling can lighten your voice too, making the whole thing sound more upbeat and easier to listen to. I’ve done some filming recently and had to speak to a script without autocue, that was tough, but again knowing your stuff really helps you sound confident and natural. It’s all a game 😉
Kate Watson-Smyth of Mad About The House
I am much more of a winger – I will prepare it but I like to try and speak off the cuff – so I will make notes on cards with bullet points so that it’s less reading and more natural. But, on that point, know your stuff. I did a talk at BoConcept in Newcastle at the weekend and there were nearly 80 people.
I muddled up my cards in the first minute, didn’t want to spend ages shuffling them around and trying to find my place and spoke off the cuff for 30 minutes. It was exhausting but I knew I knew what I wanted to say so it was ok. You can never be over-prepared. Also if you know what you want to say it’s much less nerve-wracking. Also advice from Michelle Ogundehin of Elle Deco – she said this to me and she always does it and I always do it – one glass of fizz first to steady the nerves. No more no less.
Hannah Cox of BetterNotStop
- Try and avoid notes – perhaps rough bullet points at most to keep you on track. Don’t worry if you forget things – you are the only one that knows what you are supposed to say!
- Practice the speech with the notes in front of you and once you are confident standing in front of a mirror to replicate the situation of you talking standing up in front of people. Time yourself on your phone while doing this.
- The morning off or the afternoon before a speech I clear my schedule and spend at least three hours practising it.
- Start with a quick introduction and let people know you will provide a copy of the slides, this often stops people writing tons of notes or taking pictures and instead focus on you and your words at the time, a better experience. Always assume people have no idea what you do so give a proper intro. Have a slide at the end with all your contact details including social handles and request people get in touch if they want a copy of the slides or have any questions. Ask people to follow you!
- Follow up by thanking the organisation that booked you, and always email afterwards saying thank you and ask for feedback or a quote. If you have access to the Audience contacts, get them to fill in an Anonymous google form giving feedback so you can improve or adapt… Big mistakes I see is people rushing through and not letting me know how I can contact them – I’ve been to amazing panels and never got their name or business – so annoying!
Becky Goddard Hill of A Beautiful Space
I absolutely think enthusiasm will carry you in any speaking situation. It is absolutely best to talk about things you are passionate about and smile, it makes you so much more approachable. In term of getting engagements, I have been asked and I have also put myself forward to speak at conferences. You have to put yourself out there and get your name known as a speaker and it will grow from there.
Joyce Lee from ArtsyNibs
How to deal with nerves
Personally, I practised in front of the mirror and recorded myself a lot back in uni. Then, I moved on to practising in front of my friends, yes I made them all sit and critic me. It’s tough and awkward, but I’m that sort of learner. Deep breaths and slow down (because we tend to speed up when we’re nervous!). On a more day to day basis, I’d strike up conversations with strangers when I’m at a coffee shop. That helps with building your confidence.
How to find speaking opportunities
There’s always Toast Master sessions that you can attend. My speaking opportunities mostly come from networking. Alternatively, there’s always social media. Speaking eloquently into a camera is not as easy as seems.
How has it helped your brand/self-esteem
It’s definitely put a face to the brand and made Artsynibs a lot of human in a sense. Speaking has helped me see that my opinions, albeit they might differ with some in the audience, are equally as valid. Not only do I get more confident in public speaking, but I’m also more certain about how I feel about certain things. I find that people are concerned about speaking because they’re afraid of being questioned on why they think that way, or that their opinions are not good enough. However, we all see the world through different lenses and we’re bound to having differing opinions. That’s a fact of life we have to accept and more importantly, embrace.
Lucy Gleeson of LucyLovesYa
I use now for public speaking as a blogger/designer what I learnt as an actress some time ago. When feeling nervous I methodically go over what I’m going to talk about in blocks, so that it’s not a mountain to climb. Also, some deep breathing techniques and visualising a positive outcome is helpful.
Tamsyn Morgans of Villa on Mount Pleasant
In my twenties, the thought of speaking in front of an audience would have sent me into a cold sweat. But a few years ago, I was asked to present a guest lecture to the local art college about shoot production. I found it incredibly nerve-wracking. Afterwards many of the students came up and asked me lots of questions, which made me realise that engaging with a live audience, is something that I can do.
Since then I’ve spoken on stages, on live radio, and events and workshops. I still get incredibly nervous, but I have the confidence to know that that I am able to inspire an audience, and that it’s another skill I can add to my list.
- The Discomfort Zone by Farrah Storr
- How To Own The Room by Viv Groskop
So I need bullet points, to practice lots, and to smile 😉
There are so many tips here, let me know if you’d add anything else?
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I would love your input