BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
Public speaking. It’s a skill that can make or break your career path. If you freeze up every single time you talk and can’t express yourself clearly and authentically, you’re going to be held back. Communication is incredibly important in every single career, and public speaking is still one of the highly feared tasks for many people.
Before you say, “I’m just not good at this,” or “I don’t need more skills!” take a step back and take a deep breath. Over the next few issues, we’re going to run a public speaking boot camp to level up your public speaking skills. Whether you’re ready for your first meeting or first TED Talk, these skills will start the trajectory to you being the best version of yourself.
It takes almost 100 muscles to say just one word. ONE! You use far less to run. Why do we warm up before we run, but rarely when we speak? I’ve seen far too many speakers pay attention to their words, the content of what they’re saying, and so little attention to how they are saying it. It all starts at one very simple place: warm-ups.
Breathing is the key to your warm-ups. Take one hand and place it under your ribs and the other on your back. Take a deep breath in and then out. You should be feeling your hands expand when you breathe in and contract when you breathe out. If you don’t, focus on that first. If you do, take one deep breath in and then count out audibly. Stop counting when you run out of breath. Do this before you speak and remember your number! The more you do this, the higher your number is going to get, because you’re increasing your lung capacity. More lung capacity, more breath support, and a better ability to project when you speak!STRETCH
This one is fun and simple – and will immediately improve your style! Read this out loud:
Red Leather, Yellow Leather.
Unique New York.
While you might remember these from high school drama, there is a reason actors use them to warm up – you’re working the different areas of your mouth! The key to tongue twisters isn’t to say them so fast you can’t understand what you’re saying – you want to over enunciate, almost as if you’re about to spit when you’re hitting all of those words, and speak as clearly as possible. Try to do those three a few times before you speak and think about the words that you’re saying. Picture them! These will help if you tend to trip over words, or if your brain moves faster than your mouth.
You get the energy you put out. If you’re about to speak and you’re in a terrible mood, mad you have to do this, upset that you didn’t prep enough (or take enough time to warm up) or anxious beyond measure, you’re going to make the audience uncomfortable.
Think of the last speaker you heard – were they excited or uncomfortable? How did you feel in return?
Whatever that speaker is feeling, you’re going to feel, too. It’s why, when we see anxious people talk, we feel for them – their energy leads to us feeling pity! That’s the last emotion you want from an audience. The more you can hype yourself up before speaking, the better the talk or meeting will go.
If you’re feeling low, think of some of your favorite things. Have a go-to song or video that makes you feel confident and sure of yourself. If you can harness that feeling before you go into a room full of people, you are already winning. Like attracts like, and you’re going to get that energy right back.
Try these simple warm-ups before your next speaking moment – or even before you start communicating for the day – and see what happens. Stay tuned for next month’s boot camp: being in the moment.