Over the past five years, I’ve taught countless classes, presented at conferences and presented my work (almost weekly). I used to get nervous all the time. Now I get nervous sometimes. I still sweat a lot. But I’m much more confident and I’ve found that a few things make a huge different when delivering my message. I thought I would share!
Find That One Person
If you can see the crowd or audience, find that one engaged person. There’s always that one person. To be honest, I’m that person when I’m listening to a speaker. They nod in agreement, smile when you tell a joke and maybe even ask questions during the Q&A. I find that focusing on that person helps calm my nerves. I’m much better when talking to someone one-on-one and this makes it feel that way.
Your Frenemies Probably Aren’t In The Crowd
There’s a book that I once read about public speaking and they basically tell you, “No one wants you to fail so chill out.” I’m paraphrasing but it stuck with me. Unless your arch-nemesis is attending, everyone is generally rooting for you (or not paying attention). They don’t want you to get flustered or get awkward. They’re rooting for you!
Practice So You Can Go With The Flow
I tend to generally practice my presentation but I also allow myself to take different paths depending on the room, reactions and vibes. You can’t do this if you don’t practice. You have to know the content well in order to feel confident enough to mix things up.
If you’re like me, you let people ask questions in the moment and that can allow you to adjust content. When I teach my Photography 101 class, I try to understand where everyone stands with their camera knowledge first and can shift my content based on the issues they share.
You Could Change Someone’s Life
Someone may be inspired to make a major life change, take action, quit their job, find their passion. You could meet the love of your life, a future hire or a best friend. You’re interacting with a large group and that’s kind of amazing. You have no idea what could come from the experience. We speak at the local universities and colleges (OSU and CCAD) often and that’s how we find interns.
Like I mentioned, I sweat a lot. When I speak, I perspire so I wear black shirts when I speak. Or I wear a coat (which is still a bad idea because it just makes me sweat more). DO NOT WEAR LEATHER. I didn’t have a full Ross moment but I almost did.