public-speakingBefore I joined BNI I had done very little public speaking. However, since I took on the role of Education Coordinator, I have had lots of practice. I thought it was about time I did some research on how to do it properly.

What I have learned though, before I even did the research, was, that for me the key is preparation. As we recently saw, in one of the biggest televised events South of the border, preparation for public speaking is essential, specifically when 84 million people are watching.

My essential preparation is writing out the entire speech. There are people who are really good at public speaking, without needing to write it all down, I am not one of those. I have tried it in the past, but I start to stumble over my words and start making silly jokes to hide my nervousness.

I have re-discovered the joy of writing and every weekend I look forward to coming up with an idea to write about. I write it out in full, making sure it all makes sense, keep on editing throughout the process, and most importantly ensure it doesn’t get too long.

Here is the result of the research I did, using again the all-knowing internet. Simon Sinek, the third most-watched TED Talks presenter of all time has provided the following seven tips:

  1. Don’t talk right away.

Sinek says you should never talk as you walk out on stage. A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves. That communicates insecurity and fear.

Instead, quietly walk out on stage. Then take a deep breath, find your place, wait a few seconds and begin.

  1. Show up to give, not to take.

Often people give presentations to sell products or ideas, to get people to follow them on social media, buy their books or even just to like them. Sinek calls these kinds of speakers “takers,” and he says audiences can see through these people right away. And, when they do, they disengage.

  1. Make eye contact with audience members one by one.

Scanning and panning is your worst enemy. While it looks like you’re looking at everyone, it actually disconnects you from your audience.

It’s much easier and effective, if you directly look at specific audience members throughout your speech. It’s like you’re having a conversation with your audience. You’re not speaking at them, you’re speaking with them.

       4. Speak unusually slowly.

When you get nervous, it’s not just your heart beat that quickens. Your words also tend to speed up. Luckily, audiences are more patient and forgiving than we know.

  1. Ignore the naysayers.

Dismiss the people furrowing their brows, crossing their arms or shaking their heads “no.” Instead, focus only on your supporters — the people who are visibly engaged, enjoying your presentation and nodding “yes.”

  1. Turn nervousness into excitement.

Sinek learned this trick from watching the Olympics. A few years ago he noticed that reporters interviewing Olympic athletes before and after competing were all asking the same question. “Were you nervous?” And all of the athletes gave the same answer: “No, I was excited.”

When you’re up on stage you will likely go through the same thing. That’s when Sinek says you should say to yourself out loud, “I’m not nervous, I’m excited!”

  1. Say thank you when you’re done.

Applause is a gift, and when you receive a gift, it’s only right to express how grateful you are for it. This is why Sinek always closes out his presentations with these two simple yet powerful words: thank you.

They gave you their time, and they’re giving you their applause. That’s a gift, and you have to be grateful.—— So, THANK YOU!