Happy Holidays from The American Speaker Blog!
I unofficially dubbed 2011 my “Year of Living Fearlessly,” and today I propose that we all make 2012 our Year of Speaking Fearlessly. Here are some tips for making that a reality:
- Fake it ‘til you make it. You’ve probably heard that the act of smiling can actually make you feel happier. It’s also been shown that pretending to be an academic—even for just a few minutes—can make students score higher on standardized tests.
Trick yourself into being a fearless speaker by acting fearless. Adopt the posture and air of a confident person. Make your mantra “I love speaking in front of a crowd!” Even if it’s not quite true yet, you’ll have yourself convinced before long.
- Identify and study your favorite speakers. Don’t go into your Year of Speaking Fearlessly with some vague idea about what it means to be a “good” or “perfect” speaker. More than likely you’ll come up with an unattainable—and completely unnecessary—list of traits. Instead, find videos of your favorite speakers and list the qualities that make them stand out to you.
Everyone will have different lists of qualities and speakers. My favorite speakers include Sarah Kay, Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Jobs. I’ve watched the three linked speeches over and over not because the presenters are flawless, but because they know their subjects well, they’re authentic and they don’t take themselves too seriously. All of those qualities are attainable.
- Expect to bomb at least once. Let that ruminate for a minute. You will give a crummy presentation. It happens to the best speakers. Once you accept this fact, you can stop fearing it so much. If you never bomb you’re either A. not speaking enough or B. not taking any risks. Neither of those are acceptable sacrifices to protect your ego. Volunteer to speak or present whenever you can. Don’t stick to the same old style every time; get outside your comfort zone. If something works, add it to your repertoire. If it bombs—oh well!—table it or rework it.
The BMG blogs will be back to our normal posting schedule next week, but until then, be sure to check out these other blogs …