If your palms got sweaty just reading the title of this podcast episode, it’s one for you! In this episode I share more about my own public speaking journey and share some techniques I use before, during and after speaking to help me feel more confident.
So if you want to start putting yourself out there more, whether it’s being interviewed on podcasts, hosting your own workshops or speaking at events – this episode is for you. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here:
Links and further reading
- Episode 52 – How to feel more confident sharing your creative work
- Power posing TED Talk
- How to make a self-belief evidence bank
- Subscribe to my mailing list to be the first to hear about my new course: Confidence for Creatives
How do you feel about public speaking? If the answer is ‘terrified’ then today’s podcast episode is for you. I’ll be sharing a bit more about my own public speaking journey and some techniques I use before, during and after I speak to help bolster confidence. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello lovely listener, how are you doing? Some of you may have spotted that this episode is a touch delayed, that’s because I came down with a cold and spent my last Blue Jay day on the sofa recovering. I’m feeling much better now though and am super excited to delve into today’s topic which is public speaking.
Now, when I say public speaking – what comes to mind? Chances are it’s an image of someone standing up on a stage, in front of a microphone with a huge audience watching. And yes, this is public speaking, but it truly covers so much more than this.
When I think of public speaking, I think of it as any time you’re speaking in a public forum. So this could be talking on Instagram stories, going live on social media, hosting a workshop (that may be virtual or in real life), being a guest on a podcast, doing what I’m doing now and hosting a podcast, being interviewed on radio or TV and of course speaking at events, whether that’s giving a talk or speaking on a panel. There is so much that falls under the umbrella of public speaking and they all carry the same benefits.
They are a way of connecting with others. Of sharing your message. In the last episode of Seedling, episode 52, I said sharing your creative work was like starting a conversation you want to have with the world. Public speaking then is like popping a microphone in front of it so more people can hear you.
And as scary as it may feel to do this, it can lead to incredible things. It can help you meet like-minded people. It can lead to incredible opportunities. It can give you a better chance of making an impact with your work.
But I do appreciate the fear that comes with it. I vividly remember the terror I felt when I was first asked to give a talk at an event. There is a very primal fear around social rejection that comes up, and this is totally natural, if not incredibly annoying.
What helped me was taking some time to feel around for a nugget of excitement underneath the fear. A small part of me that wanted to do this and knew I would regret it if I said no. I clung onto that part, said yes and did the talk. I was terrified, but the feeling I got after I did it, the sense of connection and joy I felt, made it all totally worth it.
Since then I’ve done more speaking work, from Instagram lives to being interviewed live on BBC News. Next week I’ll be speaking at a conference for the first time and yeah – I am nervous. I’m nervous before any type of public speaking. I’m nervous because I care and I want to do a good job, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s not about getting rid of the nerves, it’s about being able to do the thing, even with the nerves. And the more you do it, the easier this gets – remember, confidence is like a muscle we build. But how exactly do you do that? You may be wondering! Well, I don’t have any kind of magical formula, but over the years there are some things I do before, during and after speaking that really helps.
The first thing I do that helps me say yes to these opportunities in the first place is focus on how I’ll feel after and remind myself why I want to do it. So think about what you’ll gain from this experience.
Next is all about preparation. Personally I like to be as ready as possible. If I’m being interviewed I look at questions beforehand if possible to think about my answers, if I can’t I think about the topic more generally and remind myself that I know what I’m talking about – remember, you’re being interviewed for good reason! If I’m delivering a talk or workshop, I do lots of practice and even recording myself on my phone so I can watch back and see if there are any points where I need to slow down, what my body language is like and other things like that. It may feel cringey to watch yourself back, but I promise you get used to it and it really helps.
Something else I try to think about is storytelling and how I can incorporate this into my speaking. Humans love stories, it’s a core way we communicate and infusing any talk with an element of storytelling adds a little extra something.
When I feel the nerves creeping up, usually the day before, I remind myself that nerves mean I care and I try to turn them into excitement. Our bodies don’t actually know the difference between fear and excitement, so we can kinda trick ourselves with some deep breathing and mindset shifting.
Around this time I’ll also use visualisation to see myself succeeding. I’ll imagine how it will look if I smash it and I’m happy with how it goes. I also consider the worst case scenario. For me this helps, because it’s never as bad as I initially think. If things go wrong, I will survive, recover and pick myself up again.
I’ll also pick out an outfit that I feel confident in. This will be different for everyone, so take some time to think about what clothes make you feel really powerful. For me it’s usually a statement top or shirt, jeans, heeled boots and a red lip.
Just before I start speaking I’ll do some power-posing, making myself as big as possible, putting my hands on my hips and standing tall – there’s a TED Talk all about the science of this so I’ll link to that in the show-notes. I also breathe out for longer than I breathe in, this helps to calm anxiety, and finally I remind myself of a previous time I felt confident. This is a really helpful way to remind yourself that confidence is simply a feeling and it’s one you can access at any time.
So when I’m actually speaking here are a couple of things I keep in mind. First is that it’s OK to pause! When we’re nervous we tend to talk really fast to try and fill any space and make sure there’s no dead air but the truth is…. Humans pause when they speak. Pauses are also excellent moments to take a deep breath and collect yourself if you get a bit flustered. And no one is going to care if you do lose your words or get flustered, we’re humans, it’s OK to fumble. Just pause, breathe, and start again.
The other thing I try to do is connect with an audience member. If I can see an audience, I try to spot a smiling face, if I can’t see the audience, I imagine one. I remind myself that someone is listening and finding what I’m saying helpful. Not everyone in an audience will love what you say, and that’s OK, but there is always someone who needs to hear what you’re saying. Speak to them.
When I’ve finished speaking, I celebrate what I’ve done! I treat myself to a tasty dinner or plan a fun day out, just something to remind myself that I should be proud. I also try and capture the moment somehow, either asking a friend to take a picture or video when I’m speaking or screenshotting the promotion of a podcast I’ve been a guest on so I can put it in my self-belief evidence back. This way, the next time I’m asked to do some public speaking I can remind myself that I’ve done it before and that I am totally capable.
And I think that’s about it. I’m learning all the time, and I’m sure I’ll have even more thoughts after speaking at the conference next week, but for now, these are the things that really help me.
I’d love to hear from you on this topic – is public speaking something you want to do more of? If it is, but you want to grow your confidence, I’m working on a new course that may be perfect for you. It’s called Confidence for Creatives and I’m going to have several lessons on different areas of confidence, one of which will be all about public speaking. I’m also going to have opportunities for you to practice public speaking with me, because we grow from doing! If that sounds interesting to you, make sure you’re subscribed to my mailing list as I’ll be sharing the launch with them first, I’ll pop the link in the show notes.
But there we go, I hope that was helpful! Do come and chat to me on Instagram, I’m @katbluejay over there and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, until then, take care.
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