To improve your skills in speaking publicly, you need to put in the reps to talk in front of large crowds more often.
It’s easier said than done though. We human beings are wired to be fearful of any risk of social isolation, commonly based on:
Situations–who are in the audience? What are the penalties if you fail?
Preparation–do you have enough info to make a good talk? Do you have enough time to rehearse?
Thoughts–are you the best person for this? What if the audience finds you boring?
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The first two fears are real. They are grounded on externalities: it’s not a good idea to talk spontaneously about a hard subject if your boss’ boss is in the room. Doing that will create an attention debt that will retaliate later in the future.
But the third fear is only base on your thoughts and is not real, especially if others don’t share the same fear when you ask them. If you don’t usually talk in front of a large number of people, it’s tempting to follow those internal thoughts. It’s better to address only the first two instead.
This post was originally published on 18 Feb 2019, and was updated on 19 Feb 2019.
CEO & Co-founder of Get Sandwich
Martha coaches people presenting on startup pitches and science presentation grants. When she's not hard at work helping people present better, she can be found travelling around the globe and eating delicious delicacies.
Practice makes perfect. You may think this is part and parcel of the wisdom of the crowd, and whoever saying it to you is trying to help you. Reminding you that hard work counts, and that perfection is the goal.
But is perfection the reason for anyone practicing? Is that why you practice creating your signature cakes? Or reciting your presentations?
Perfection is subjective. The day is perfect. Whose day? Yours. The trip was perfect. Whose trip? Definitely not everybody’s. We don’t describe anything objectively using the word. Try this out: The research results are perfect. Sounds weird? Perfection is objectively unattainable.
In fact, focusing on perfection has led many tofailures. The more you cognitively associate what you are doing with perfection, the more likely you will make mistakes. Even when practicing, too much focus on the details derails you from the bigger picture and can easily demotivate the whole process. If practice is all we need to get better, then why don’t everybody just practice for their own good?
Practice makes perfect. But then another voice in your head chimes in: “but no one is perfect therefore there is no need to practice. Yay!”
Practice makes progress. What can you say now to that?
It’s much more useful because it’s hard to refute and don’t let the nuance deceive you. A small change in wording leads to a massive shift in the mindset.
Small incremental progress, is theunderrated sister of innovation. Similar to how the interest of your bank account works, progress compounds. It even has a name, called The Kaizen Effect. This blog post describes it well:
“Try to do just 1% better than the day before. Start small and make your increases gradual. Avoid the temptation to get impatient and start rushing forward and taking bigger leaps. Take it slow, steady, and consistent.”
Through this lens, doing 1% better is virtually the opposite of striving for perfection. It’s just a tad better, and that’s enough to practice just one more time. Practice that song for one more minute or run just 100 meters more. The act of practicing becomes that much easier. After all, you’re not striving for perfection, are you?
Aristotle,umm err actually, Will Durant famously said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” You can choose to make a habit out of practice, and that’s enough. Some even go as far as saying,do your worst. And doing your worst does count for progress.
Progress leads to change and change leads to growth. Catch yourself desperately trying to attain perfection, and refocus your effort to simply create 1% progress for today.
This week we have 2 very important announcements for you. They relate both to our product and to our brand, so this means that it involves you – our beloved clients and enthusiasts.
The first one is that we have been looking for a name to call you, where “you” is a personality that we talk to especially in our social media. Since our (funny!) name is Get Sandwich relating to the sandwich technique, our team has come up with the name Sub. What do you think, Subs? Leave your thought in the comments and let us know if you like it or if you have a better idea.
The second one is a shout of happiness and a kind request. Get Sandwich is selected as a finalist in the Swedish National Finale of Nordic Startup Awards 2018 in the category Best Newcomer. Yeeey, amazing news! We are proud to be a part of this select batch of fine Nordic startups and thrilled of being inside this ecosystem.
There is a jury to determine the winner in each category, but the public voting counts as ONE jury member. Having the most votes can increase the chances to win and the public voting is now open. Run to this link and search for Sandwich. The public voting closes on August 22 at 16h CEST. We thank you in advance for your support!
Follow our social media channels* for more updates, news and interesting facts about the public speaking world and the sandwich features. If you would like to share don’t forget the hashtags #GetSandwich #NSAwards #NordicMade.
I don’t have so much experience in being an interesting speaker, but I am a black-belt in making people bored.
In the same way that speaking well is a skill, making people bored is also a skill. Have you thought of how to get away from those pesky neighbours saying “hey”?
Or maybe those colleagues who want to chit-chat, taking away your most productive hours in the morning?
I tell you the worst location I’ve been in where this skill is tremendously useful.
When I’m on a plane.
Let say the flight is ten hours from Stockholm to Singapore, and within the first five minutes of starting the long journey, just after I finish putting my socks on, then my slippers, then tuck myself under a blanket, relaxed my shoulder with a quick massage, about to put on my eyepatch and pop the sleeping pills to settle into a good sleep. The woman sitting next to me touched my shoulder. She grins at me with a hint of restlessness, then she asks “So you’re going to Singapore?”
I said, “Aren’t we all?”
Tell me if you’ve been in these tricky situations before.
To get you out, here are three prescriptions on how to bore others.
My first advice is to talk about yourself. A lot. After all, why hold back. Tell her your origin story. How you were born. Tell her how your mother had read you Wonder Woman and Batman stories when you were still in her tummy, and that your father played Mozart on a loop for the last 3 months of the pregnancy.
Tell her your priorities in life. How much you demand comfort and enjoyment above all else. Explain to her why your bed sheets need to be ironed / everyday otherwise you will have nightmares for weeks.
Tell her how your kids, your biggest pride and joy follow your teachings and double down / on the quest to be spoiled brats. Your daughter is the living embodiment of Kim Kardashian and your son is the next Donald Trump. The world has been so unfair to you, for the sake of justice, your family shouldn’t have to go through hard-life.
The thing is you are better than everyone else. Tell her how people complain all the time about their lives but it’s really nothing in comparison to how much abuse you’ve gone through in the airport. How the baggage checking never understands your plight for speed and that you’re allergic to having your iPad touched by dirty, coarse hands.
For the second advice, you should ensure that you have a smug face. Do everything necessary to appear disengaged. Look at NOT the woman’s face but the ceiling, or the person next to her instead. Talk without acknowledging she ever exists. She started this conversation after all. It wasn’t you who wanted this.
When she appears to want to butt in, don’t give her that pause. Keep talking. Pause is only for people who want to be understood.
You don’t want that.
If you’re telling a story, like when you met the queen, change to a posh accent. “Oh, my dear, the queen has invited the family to the royal high-tea. Indeed, it is so delightful. Now… off we go.”
My final advice is to ignore all feedback. Ignore that little voice in your head that says, “You’re being an ass”.
When the woman gives you a full-blown yawn, just pretend / that she hasn’t slept well last night. She got too excited for the chance / to meet someone like you.
After you’ve followed my advice for 10 minutes, there should be one sign of success. Get ready to get your phone out / and take a picture of what you’re about to achieve. I will give you a certificate as a public recognition. The woman should be, completely asleep.
If she’s still awake, switch to plan B.
Excuse yourself to get a cup of water, secretly pull out the sleeping pills you almost took before. Drop them into the cup. Go back to your seat.
Tell her, “Hey, I thought you must be exhausted after hearing all of that.”
Don’t forget to smile.
This post first appeared as a speech delivered in Toastmasters in October 2017.
Confidence is essential, even though often you don’t have much control of how you feel inside when you have to speak. A calm appearance enhances credibility, and make people want to hear what you say, and what you will say next.
How confident you appear to others though, is something that is easier to control. If your hands are shaking because of nerves, putting them in your pocket is a beneficial action you can do to appear more confident.
But today what we would like to practise on how to speak slowly and deliberately. It’s based on an highly-recommended exercise by an Improv Theatre guru, Marian Rich.