Public Speaking – How to Not Freak Out

I recently received a cool plaque from Izea for my participation as a speaker at IzeaFest! It spurred me to write a post on my first time representing UBD on stage. Enjoy!

I’ve heard that some people would rather die than endure a public speaking engagement. I can identify with that…

Early in 2008, UBD was asked to attend a new conference by the name of IzeaFest. We of course accepted and made plans to exhibit and be a part of the Extreme Blog Makeover panel. I ended up taking the challenge of speaking on behalf of the company, which led to pretty extreme stress, anxiety, and in the end an overwhelmingly satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Kind of an emotional roller coaster you could say.

The goal of this post is to give you insight into what it’s like to take on a public speaking engagement for the first time, and how not to lose your mind in the process.


Initial Reaction and Run-Up Time


When I accepted, I felt a tinge of fear and anxiety. Although I had several months to prepare, I still felt “under the gun.” All kinds of fun stuff ran through my head in regards to how I could miserably fail and tarnish the UBD brand while destroying my own in the process.

Alternatively, I could see the bright light at the end of the tunnel. I had confidence in myself as an expert, and knew that with preparation I could handle the pressure and come out on top.

Here are a few things to consider doing and remembering during the run-up to your engagement:

- Don’t panic.
- You’re the expert.
- Brainstorm, and write down broad ideas that you’d like to delve deeply into.
- People are coming to see YOU.


Preparation


This was rather interesting for me because I had neither spoken publicly before and the nitty-gritty details of the panel had remained a bit of a mystery until the day of the event.

What I did know is that I had about 2 weeks to work on a design for Boating in Beautiful British Columbia. Designing was the easy part, getting the slides and my content up to speed was my hurdle.

I tried to get into the mind of who I thought the audience at the conference would be. Most people that would be interested in what I had to say would be relatively new to blogging, or wouldn’t have a ton of experience on the subject. This was great, because some of the “blog design 101″ is the most crucial and useful information to know. No worries, now! Just need to practice…

How much you prepare for your actual speech is up to you. Rehearse the content and slide transitions until you feel comfortable and won’t be surprised by the content that is up on the screen.

Here are a few things to consider when developing your presentation content:

- Provide advice and content that is useful to your audience (something they could walk out of the room and get going on right away).
- Be confident in your material.
- Make sure the content on your slides is easy to see, and easy to understand. Use macro ideas to help you delve deeper into the concept.


D-Day and Aftermath


I had neither spoken publicly before and the nitty-gritty details of the panel had remained a bit of a mystery until the day of the event. All I knew was that I had to show up a bit before 3PM!

It was at this time that I felt the pinnacle of fear. It wasn’t so bad early in the day, but as the time drew nearer I realized that D-Day had approached and I was about to go into verbal battle with the masses… Maybe it wasn’t that serious, but I was as nervous as I’d ever been.

After all of this run-up and anticipation, it actually went pretty smoothly. I didn’t really choke up at all or get off-point.

My main criticism of myself has to be the abundant “uh” and “um” and “you know” fillers. That being said, for my first PS event it wasn’t too shabby!

As extreme as the nervousness and fear, the relief and feeling of accomplishment afterwards was overwhelming. I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders, and was ready to go out and have a beer immediately afterwards!


In Conclusion


Getting out there to represent yourself and/or your company can help cement your brand and gain thought leadership in the community you serve.

Hopefully you can take some of my advice and apply it to your own public speaking endevour!

8 thoughts on “Public Speaking – How to Not Freak Out

  1. Public speaking is a fear of many people. My eldest daughter who was described by her kindergarten teacher as being too shy for school (which I thought was cr@p), has just volunteered yesterday to speak in front of 300+ people. She is now 10.
    It is important that we focus on the ‘buzz’ you can get from public speaking and the fact that in most instances the only one that ever knows that you did something different to plan is you.
    I hope this motivates everyone who is challenged by public speaking.

  2. Not bad for a first time public speaker. You were probably one of the calmest speakers on the panel, and over all was well presented. The second presenter was ok, but abruptly cut himself off at the end. The last speaker (you can tell), was extremely nervous and his presentation was very choppy. He was talking way too fast and was all over the place.

  3. Great tips, I do a lot of training and presentaions at work and prep work is key. Tie they with confidence and your be a winner. Nice post also like your site looking myself to finally get a real pro-quality theme next month.

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