I have an unprecedented number of speaking engagements lined up for the first three months of this year. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at public speaking in the last few years, but I’m always looking for ways to kick my skills up a notch, so I’m currently in the process of doing research on being a better public speaker, and I thought I’d share for those who are interested.
On his blog, Tim Ferriss, author of the “The Four Hour Work Week,” suggests pre-speech caffeine dosing. He always drinks a 16 ounce Diet Coke 45 minutes before a speech and another 20 minutes before the speech, for energy. He also suggest peeing before taking the stage.
Perhaps more helpful, Ferriss takes the amount of time he is expected to present and allocates half of it for questions and answers with the audience. He divides the remaining time into five sections: A short opening, a short closing, and the remaining three sections are divided equally and allocated to introducing and explaining a single point each. I think that’s a pretty good format.
So, worried you might forget one of your three points or the order you want to introduce them in? Try building a Memory Palace. A Memory Palace is a series of highly visual and often ridiculous images in a highly visual and ridiculous sequence of events. Each image represents a point or concept you want to remember and the sequence of events represents the order you need to remember them in. This is how competitive memorizers (yes, that’s a thing) prepare for competition. There's a TED Talk on the subject: here.
Get nervous in front of crowds? Practice adopting confident body language for twenty minutes or so before giving your speech. Not only will you appear more confident to your audience, but you can actually trick yourself into feeling more confident. Here’s a TED Talk on that subject.
We’ve all heard the advice about about imagining your audience naked to feel more at ease in front of a crowd. In the book “Psycho Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz and Dan Kennedy, there’s a story of a woman who takes this concept to the next level. To get over being self conscious in front of an audience, she practiced her speeches completely naked while standing before a full length mirror. The logic being that when she could get through the entire speech, naked in front of a mirror, without feeling self conscious, being on stage fully dressed and unable to see herself would be a breeze. This technique could really come in handy for me, since it’s not rare for me to give presentations while almost naked. Unfortunately, I don’t own a full length mirror, so I guess I’ll just have to invite some people over and practice my presentation in front of them in the nude. If anyone is interested in helping me out, just let me know.