how to prepare for public speaking

"Speaking" of Leadership

This past weekend I was honored to speak at the Exalt Conference that was put on by a coach training organization called Lark's Song  (If any of you are interested in becoming a certified coach you should check out this program. All I can say is: quality people doing quality coaching work.)

Being an extrovert's extrovert, if I am not taking care of myself 36 hours before the event, I will either run out of energy before I get on stage or during my talk. So, I thought I would put down some thoughts on how I practice “self-care” prior to speaking at an event or just preparing for a full day of training (I will say, the better I know the material, the more I may sway from these ideas.)

Scott’s Rules for Self-Care Prior To Public Speaking

The day before/the morning of:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I drink at least 100 ounces of water (half my body weight in ounces) the day prior, and the day of the event. If I am giving the first talk at 8 or 9am, then I will probably only get in 16 to 24 ounces. Hydrating prevents my body from pulling energy from other sources. It is also important to flush any cortisol-related to stress from my body.

  2. Eat right. That means balancing carbs and proteins and limiting my fat intake. I have reflux from time to time that is totally dietarily-triggered. So, I need to make sure I am getting both the protein I need for strength, and the carbs I need for energy.

  3. One last look. I like to go over my talk one last time prior to going to bed. I make sure my presentation delivers the message I want within the time given, and the stories I am using make sense.

  4. Sleep. Even if I am with a client at dinner, I try my best to be in bed early. A good night's sleep is so important for a number of reasons. In a 2014 article in Sleep Science, author Mindy Friedman concludes, "Sleep deprivation results in objective changes in effort including reductions in the speed of task completion, work rates and the number of solutions attempted. A preference for lower effort tasks, less challenging non-academic tasks and the selection of only high priority tasks have been observed.”

  5. Morning routine. When I wake up the next day, after my devotion and meditation time, I open my presentation and go over it one more time. I find this combination of good rest the night before and revisiting my presentation in the morning vital to my preparation. I don’t cloud my thoughts with TV or news. I might glance at a headline so I am current, but I don’t bog myself down with items that I can’t concern myself with prior to a talk.

15 minute Warning

  1. Opening Visualization. I write out my opening 3 minutes. I then visualize myself stepping onstage, smiling, and delivering the first 3 minutes. I find if I rehearse and memorize my first 3 minutes I am able to get into an unstoppable flow.

  2. Use the restroom. About 10-15 minutes prior to going on stage I use the facilities for two reasons. I have drunk 200 ounces of water over the past 36 hours, and I want to do one final appearance check. I know I am not much to look at, but I want to make sure my shirt is tucked in and my fly is zipped up. This is just a last minute quality check.  (Hint: If you are already mic’ed up make sure the power is off so that if your sound is live everyone in the “house” will not hear you.)

  3. Find a mirror. This one is all about me pumping myself up. Sometimes there is a mirror in the green room or restroom. So after I make sure I look presentable, I look myself in the mirror and say:

    1. You are a child of God

    2.  You are using your unique giftedness

    3. Have some fun out there.

  4. Take deep breaths. About 3 minutes before my music is queued I try to take about 10 deep, yoga style breaths. Often even those around me will not know I am doing this. This breathing both calms me and centers me on my topic.

  5. Smile. My goal is to be smiling and relaxed before I go on. I want everyone around me to be relaxed. If they are relaxed then I am relaxed. If there are tense people, I try and avoid them. I want nothing but positive energy and smiles prior to going on stage.

These are just some things I have noticed the last few times I presented. I would be interested in hearing from you. What do you do prior to making a presentation that allows you to be successful?