Someone asks you to give a conference; it’s panic! Why are we so afraid of public speaking?
3 years ago, I took a course at McGill to familiarize myself with speaking in public. I took the decision at that time to overcome this fear of giving conferences. This course taught me the basics of giving lectures. I learned two important things. First, we should always talk about a topic that we know very well and we are passionate about and secondly, we must practice, practice, practice.
I read weekly newsletters from Rob Eager who specializes in marketing for authors, including helping them give conferences. In April, he had a newsletter about the speakers. He was surprised at the number of people who do not practice their presentation before giving them. People do not practice their presentation for several reasons: lack of time, embarrassment or they do not want to seem too automatic or appear to repeat words when they give their conferences.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT GIVING CONFERENCES
- Know your subject;
- Know your audience;
- Practice alone (2-3 times);
- Practicing in front of one or more people, at least once;
- Practicing once more the morning of the conference (or the night before);
- The more you practice, the less you will be nervous. It is still important to have some nervousness, it helps us to be well prepared;
- Having an unshakable confidence in the fact that we can help our audience;
- Pay attention to your intention. Why are you giving this conference?
For several months now, I give several lectures per month. The first time, I was very nervous. I practiced alone, sitting, then alone, standing as if I was before my audience. Then I practiced using Skype with a colleague. I practiced one last time on the morning of the conference. The practice helped me a lot but I also changed my “focus”. Instead of focusing on how I was going to perform, I focused on the women who were in the audience. They come to listen to me because I have something to say. They are confident in the expertise I bring and in the fact that I can help them.
This change in my frame of mind has freed me from the need to perform. I am in front of you because I have some information that will improve your lives. My only goal is to share and help you realize important things and, hopefully, inspire you to take action. I listened to an interview where Céline Dion said she was still nervous at the start of “show” but it helped her to prepare well and to focus on her intention which is to be an entertainer. Whether or not we like Céline, we know that she and her team spend hours and hours preparing for her shows. We can not ignore it. Prepare is vital to all success. Whether for an exam, an executive meeting or an interview. I remember when I had to present my thesis in front of the board. I had ten or twelve of my collegues in a room during lunch time and I received great feed-back from them.
Why not prepare for a conference? Go ahead, get started. Start slowly, do it in front of a small group and gain confidence. Then you can do it to a larger group and so forth. Did you know that John F. Kennedy was very bad in his debut when he gave lectures? With practice and criticism of his large family he became a great orator.
And do not forget, you need to talk about a topic you know well and that you are passionate about!