Public speaking has always been something I really don’t like to do. There are not a lot of people I meet who say “I love public speaking”. But over the years I have noticed a few things as I’ve had to do this more than once.
I am always nervous when speaking to a crowd of people for the first time. Should I have occasion to speak to them again I am less nervous. In fact, it pretty much goes away over time. I believe this has to do with familiarity.
When speaking to a large crowd I prefer the lights to be bright so I cannot see them. This helps me focus on the topic and not on the people in the front rows falling asleep. When talking to smaller crowds in meeting rooms I like to sit in the midst of the group. It makes me feel as though all eyes are not on me – even though they are.
Adding humour to my presentations is key. It’s not because I am so funny, but it helps me stay grounded. I use the humour as a way to remind me that I’m not saving lives. The topic may be serious, but it is not everything.
While I don’t always do it, sometimes I keep a “totem” in my pocket. Like humour, it helps ground me and calms my nerves. Of course, it can become distracting sometimes and cause me to loose my train of thought. But for the most part, it is more helpful than not.
So while I am by no means on the professional speaking circuit, I have learned a few things along the way. I forgot to mention that the more familiar I become with a crowd the more I enjoy speaking to them. So it stands to reason that I should just do it more. Maybe not.