[New Public Speaking Book]
How to Master Preperation - Chapter 2
This page will teach you exactly how to prepare for public speaking.
It will teach you the main ideas from How to Master Public Speaking.
You will learn how to make the most of your preparation...
...and essentially guarantee success. Are you ready?
Let's get started.
Chapter 2 - How to Master Preparation
Contents of This Chapter
Pre-Speech Relaxation Techniques
General Public Speaking Practice Techniques
There are some ways you can become a better public speaker. With no audience in front of you.
You won't just memorize one speech doing this, but improve as a speaker.
Which will make all your following speeches that much easier.
Here's 3 of the techniques shared in the book:
5-minute impromptu speech.
The "um" game.
Practice likely speeches.
Confidence is everything.
As a speaker, it is often the end goal, and if not, the means to acheive your end goal.
Either you want to be a confident speaker, or you already are; if you are, then you use it.
If not, then you develop it.
Here's the truth:
For so many people, the single largest public speaking challenge they face is confidence.
And I completely understand. When I was starting out, a very long time ago, I lacked confidence completely.
But I was able to develop it.
Here are (some) of the ways described in the book:
The "slowly-but-surely" method.
Confidence will push you towards success as a speaker.
Because effective speech is both what you say and how you say it.
Here's why confidence is so important:
Anyone can maximize the power of what they say, but only a confident person can maximize the power of how they say it.
Developing public speaking confidence doesn’t come easy, but once it does, everything else will fall into place. Believe me. I've been there.
Unpacking the Anxiety
Compartmentalizing the Anxiety
There are two types of speakers:
Those who are sometimes nervous, and those who tell the lie that they are never nervous.
You can limit your nerves, but to never be nervous? Impossible.
You can be confident and anxious at the same time. As long as confidence is in the drivers seat, you'll be fine.
We like to be calm. Don't we? I know I do.
Here's how we can get calm:
Understand the anxiety.
Accept the anxiety.
Start speaking (it'll go away once you start).
The last one is my favorite.
Think about it:
Does speaking make us anxious?
Or, does the anticipation of speaking make us anxious?
It's the anticipation.
So I'll just give you one of the anxiety-reducing tips from the book right now:
Realize that speaking itself doesn't make you anxious, but the thought of speaking does. Know that once you start speaking, the anxiety will melt away. Your nervous system will realize there's nothing to be afraid of.
But no matter what...
...just start speaking.
These are really "anytime-you-need-to-relax" relaxation techniques.
Here they are:
Perform diaphragmatic breathing.
Listen to familiar music.
Picture positive outcomes.
Use positive outcome affirmations.
The book shows you exactly how to do all of them.
More importantly, it shows you how they form a unified process that can relax you whenever you want.
It's pretty awesome:
At your disposal, you have an arsenal of scientifically proven relaxation techniques.
Use them any time you feel anxious before a speech.
Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speeches
Let me paint you a picture:
You are an accomplished manager in a technology firm. Your CEO gathers the entire branch together for an announcement of a new technology your team pioneered.
She finishes the announcement, but before the applause start, she turns to you, in front of everyone, and says this:
"Have anything to say?"
Everyone is silent. Your heart starts thumping. 5 seconds pass. Then 10. Then 15. The floor opens up into a gaping hole that swallows you.
Or maybe not, because you are essentially being asked to give an impromptu speech...
... and the book shows you exactly how to do that.
I love impromptu speeches.
Here are just 3 of the impromptu techniques taught in the book:
Use strategic pauses (they give you time to formulate your sentences, and also sound eloquent).
Open a stream of consciousness (nobody expects polished perfection with an impromptu speech).
Build a sentence chain (sentence 2 is a natural follow-up to sentence 1, and sentence 3 to sentence 2, etc).
These 3 techniques all do one thing:
Prevent the most feared impromptu scenario ever.
What's that, you ask?
Not knowing what to say.
Strategic pauses give you time to figure out what you are going to say (while sounding awesome). A stream of consciousness feeds you a conveyor-belt of genuine content. A sentence chain helps you build an entire speech from your first sentence.
Speeches Prepared In Time
A speech prepared in time is either memorized, or written down, right?
That's the common belief.
But here's the truth:
You can also give a speech that is loosely centered around a core set of ideas...
...but that isn't mapped out to the letter.
What's the difference between a speech centered around a set of ideas and an impromptu speech?
Well, a speech centered around a set of ideas should be practiced.
Here's how you practice it:
Memorize the content, but not the words.
Practice delivering it.
Re-write a "speech-map" over and over again.
These speeches are my favorite. They allow you to have some things that written speeches don't:
A natural stage presence. A natural delivery. Natural sentence structure.
Think of it this way:
You know the concepts, and you deliver them in a natural way. The way the sentences first form in your mind. Straight from your mind to your audience.
It's what I call direct communication.
Here's my advice:
If you worry about your ability to fully memorize a written speech, don't try to.
Instead, center your speech around a core set of themes and ideas.
Only memorize a fully written speech if you know you can.
Here's what happens if you speak from a manuscript or a hazy memory of one:
The content is not coming straight from you. You yourself have to sift through a hazy memory of a manuscript to find it (or through a physical manuscript - same thing). And, unfortunately, many problems can develop along the way.
Here's how that looks (diagrams are from the book):
Step 1 is you searching your manuscript (or memory) for words. Step 2 is you finding them. Step 3 is you delivering them to your audience.
Here's the problem:
There's often interference in steps 1 and 2. This causes interference in step 3, your communication to your audience. That's the danger of indirect communication.
On the other hand, direct communication is just this:
Step 1 and 2 (looking for words and finding them) occur in your mind. That's why it's direct communication.
There are many other pros and cons for each style covered in the book...
...which should help you decide which approach to choose.
To defeat something, you must first understand it.
So let's unpack public speaking anxiety; why you feel it and how to fix it.
Here's why you feel it:
Let's say you are walking in the woods, and a saber-tooth tiger lunges out at you.
Would you be anxious?
No. You'd be terrified out of your mind.
To help us survive, evolution makes us anxious in certain situations.
But those impulses aren't that useful anymore.
Of course, to our rational minds, giving a public speech and facing a large hungry predator are very different situations. But not to our nervous systems.
Here's where evolution screwed us:
Our nervous system has a hard time distinguishing danger and hundreds of people staring at us as we stand, exposed, on a stage.
But there's hope! It's very easy to retrain our nervous systems.
Here's how to fix public speaking anxiety:
By exposing yourself on stages. Over and over again. To get rid of the anxiety for ever, you just have to face it a few times.
It gets better:
You don't have to go from never speaking publicly to speaking in front of thousands. You can start small. First an audience of 1 (a close friend). Then 5. Then 10. Then 15. Progressively, you can retrain your nervous system. It's much easier than jumping straight to massive audiences.
The solution to public speaking anxiety is this:
Practice, learn, and get as much experience as possible. Study public speaking with commitment, diligence, and determination; soon enough, anxiety will be a thing of the past.
Let's say you decide to memorize your speech.
You try and try and try...
...the event gets closer and closer and closer...
THE EVENT! It's here, and you haven't memorized your speech.
You know what that means.
You try to start speaking. Silence. 5 seconds. 10. 15. Floor opens into a gaping hole that swallows you.
But wait. You could avoid all that by learning the memorization tricks in the book.
Here's some of them:
Muscle-memory repetition + vocal reptition.
Iron out troublesome segments.
I have a nice saying about preperation:
Garbage in, garbage out. Gold in, gold out.
Want a garbage performance? Do garbage preparation.
Want a golden performence? Do golden preperation.
It's that simple.
Visual Aids and Reading a Speech
You have to give a talk in front of 300 people.
No worries. You prepared, you have a stack of flashcards, and you feel confident.
You go up on stage.
You drop the flashcards.
You get down and start collecting them all.
5 seconds. 10. 15.
You try to reorder them.
20. 25. 30.
"Where the hell is number 4?!"
35. 40. 45.
The floor opens up into a gaping hole that swallows you.
Which brings us to lesson 1:
Always attach your flashcards.
I'll skim over lessons 2 through 6:
Avoid reading a speech from a manuscript.
If you do read, don't try and hide it.
If you do read, do so in a specific way the book shows you.
Write down just the main points you want to deliver.
Write down just a few key word-for-word sentences.
Bring just one 3-by-5 notecard.
"Apparel oft proclaims the man."
That's Shakespeare. :)
The book goes very in depth on this subject, showing you specific examples.
For now, I'll just give you a basic formula:
Dress a little nicer than your audience.
Doing so still distinguishes you from them...
...but also maintains relatability.
Aside from this, there several little tricks that all portray yourself in a certain way.
And they are all revealed in the book.
Pretty much everyone has made presentation slides at one point or another...
...maybe for school, or for work.
But it's unfortunate:
Almost all of those people have done it wrong.
Almost all of those people made the same mistake.
Almost all of those people have suffered because of it.
Here's what a slide should look like:
Either that or a related image.
A slide should never be a big block of text.
Unless, of course, you want to hurt your audience; in which case, go for it.
Our minds (for many reasons) cannot focus on too many things at once. Some of these reasons are:
Cognitive scope limitation.
Short-term memory overload.
Decreasing attention spans.
So why do so many speakers write out ENTIRE paragraphs on their slides?
Because they don't know any better.
Here are the problems with those overloaded slides:
People can't process the slide and the speaker.
People can read on their own. If you're reading the slides, you're doing it wrong.
People either have to choose the slides or the speaker, but not both.
People might try to read the slide, but it might switch before they finish.
People might ignore the slides altogether (so why even have them?)
Short, snappy, informative bullets.
That's all you need.
The core information should come from your voice, not from your slides.
Think of your voice as my book: most of the information comes from there.
Think of your slides as this page you're now on: brief overviews that convey big ideas and nothing else.
I'll just quote straight from the book again:
"Success comes to those who prepare themselves to create it and receive it. Public speaking, like any other worthy endeavor, takes preparation. If you ever feel that you lack control of the situation when you’re actually giving a public speech, take solace in this: in most cases, your ability to prepare for a speech is 100% under your control. Use this principle in every possible way. Make a clear plan as to how you will prepare, and then execute it. Do whatever it takes to get ready for the speech. The amount of control you can exert over yourself and your audience when you’re actually giving your speech, as well as how calm you feel, are both directly proportional to how diligently you prepare.
As you gain experience, you’ll need to prepare less and less. Experienced public speakers reach a point where they can briefly glance over a five-page summary of a topic and then give a ten-minute speech on it directly after. This is a very useful manifestation of public speaking mastery. However, until you are there, take the time to prepare. A long time ago, a calculus teacher of mine used to say “there’s no such thing as luck, only preparation” before handing out our tests. It’s really that simple. Prepare yourself, and you’ll succeed as a public speaker.
Use the principles learned in this section to guide your preparation, and combine them with a diligent and motivated approach. Success will be yours."