Episode 162 – How to public speak better than TED Talk speakers
Most people would prefer death over public speaking
They say most people would prefer death over public speaking….
What about you? Would you be able to brave a few hundred or even a few thousand pairs of eyes all on you?
What about if it’s an intimate crowd of 10-20? Would that be easier? Or harder?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a range of experiences in the public speaking arena from executive leadership development workshops of 10-30, to hyping up and warming up huge crowds of 14,000 , 16,000 or even 20,000 people – enough to pack a stadium. Everything in between is also familiar with experiences in dance festivals, corporate christmas parties, product launches endorsements, association keynotes, corporate pep rallies and of course motivational speeches for the Philippine Volcanoes national teams – on the training pitch, in the change rooms and in the final opportunities to inspire a game changing play.
I also have to mention I’ve been featured on news shows and popular variety TV shows such as CNN, ESPN, ABS CBN Sports Unlimited, Ganda Gabi Vice, ABS CBN It’s ShowTime and so on.
These were fantastic experiences that have helped me to love the art and science of public speaking.
If you’re one of the exceptional few that wants to get on stage and be a keynote speaker read on.
I hope this helps get you organised for your public speaking affair.
Here’s what I’ve learnt from the last 6 years.
1. Be You
I remember when I was first starting out in hyping up crowds for fun runs – I had maybe 10-15 fun runs under my belt and I wanted to take my “hype-man” skills to the next level. That’s when I came up with a “brilliant idea” and watched Beyonce and Chris Brown on Youtube to see what they did. I was so inspired by their words I decided to copy Beyonce’s crowd interaction sound bites at my next fun run.
There I was half asleep at a full marathon running event that started at 4am. Just before I go on stage in front of the first wave of people – about 6,000 of 12,000 serious long distance runners – I looked at my notebook for my “Beyonce sound bite script” to remember my lines. Next thing you know I’m called to the stage, microphone in hand.
I look out at 6000 people and in my Aussie accent I yelled out my best Beyonce, “All my ladies in the house, let me hear ya’ll!”
Then a few giggles of laughter from a few thousand people quickly followed.
There’s nothing like public mockery to humble your enthusiasm.
What sounded good in my head was actually poorly practiced and thus poorly executed. It also wasn’t me – I’m Australian – not from the US of A. I was also at a semi-serious run, not a music concert.
It’s funny looking back now.
So, first off whenever I’m talking on stage in front of an audience, it’s important to be myself (cliche I know)…people smell BS from a mile away.
BONUS: know your audience.
2. Know your stuff
I have another funny story. Well it’s more of a tragic story than a comedy but here goes.
I’m asked to host a wedding and in my naivety, I accepted the “challenge.”
Being one to finally act myself, I decided preparation was not required and I would just “wing it.”
Besides, I was already well experienced in hosting events (cough, cough not weddings).
Wing it at a wedding. I’ll never forget that thought.
There I am on wedding day.
I arrive late as usual thanks to Manila traffic.
Then I proceed to rush into the wedding reception without practice or review of the names, event process or even the evenings entertainment.
“It’ll be fine,” I said. “Just hand me the script and I’ll start now.”
First off the bat for the wedding reception was the introduction of bride, groom and their parties.
Here I was at the front of a room full of family and friends and the entourage was parading through the centre isle.
It was showtime.
Read on below.
I look at my script and muttered to myself, “Damn! These names are…hmmm…How do I say this one?!”
(Notes: Filipino names which are typically Spanish, Malay, Chinese influenced have different pronunciations to Australian ones).
“Let’s all congratulate the bride and groom!”
Sweat and steam poured from my head.
“Mr and Mrs. Mag…Mug… Magail… Mag-gail-lanes….” (Magallanes)
The crowd’s attention flickered from Bride and groom to me.
Eyebrows furrowed. Mutters of distaste ensued.
I felt myself shrink into a ball of embarrassment.
I looked at my watch. 3hrs to go….
And that’s where I’ll leave the story.
Moral of the story.
I have to know my subject matter. A lot of my subject matter was lived, coached or learnt. If its not, I won’t speak about it anymore.
It’s important to keep within my circle of competence.
3. Prepare or prepare to fail well!
Just like in the above story, I didn’t prepare, I didn’t practice and what happened?
I must prepare and practice like it’s going out of fashion. I want it seemless on “game day.” And so should you.
How do I prepare for a keynote?
There’s nothing special to it really:
1. Find out what’s going on
Ill chat to the event organiser about things like:
- What is the key purpose of the speech or event?
- Who is the audience? And how many?
- What are the logistical requirements such as time limits, room setup, travel time, etc.?
- What is the attire?
- What’s the event flow?
2. Visualise and create your role for the event.
Next, I’ll outline my keynote, speech and script to suit my personality, voice, ability and the above information.
It’s important to get an idea of the event but then customise it to who I am.
3. Review and practice.
Once I’m happy with my preparation notes, I’ll start to practice the material aloud to get the sequencing, timing and intonation right (and pronunciations…haha).
Many times actually – in the car, shower, studio, while cooking, while running – to get the delivery right for “game” day.
It’s important to rest my conscious mind and let the subconscious embody the performance of the keynote speech.
6. Final practice runs with enhancements
This is where I practice again but with enhancements such as crowd interaction sound bites, re-highlighting key messages within the sub-structure of the keynote speech performance with gestures, comedy or other communication techniques.
Bring on “game day!”
There are a few more things to speaking but nothing beats experience and practice. If you’ve ever wanted to be a keynote speaker try this process out. I hope it helps. Also, If you need a keynote speaker or speaker coach, send me a message I’d love to hear from you.
Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.
Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.