- Jen Glantz is a bestselling author and the founder and CEO of Bridesmaid for Hire, a boutique services company that offers professional bridesmaids who “take care of all your wedding dirty work.”
- Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many companies are encouraging employees to work from home – which can be a great opportunity to work on your public speaking skills.
- Many people have a fear of public speaking, but most of us will have to face it at sooner or later whether in a formal or informal setting, such as giving a presentation at work or toasting the bride and groom at a wedding.
- Glantz suggests practicing talking to yourself in a mirror, and recording your speech on video to watch back and catch any unnecessary filler words that you may use without noticing.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Public speaking used to be my biggest fear a couple of years ago. I was so shy and reserved that when people asked me a simple question like “What’s your name?”, my face would flush red and my heart would race. I would have rather done other things that I was fearful of, like bungee jumping or hanging out with spiders, than say yes to speaking at conferences.
But I’ve since changed. For the past few years, public speaking has become something I enjoy doing and actively look for opportunities to do more of. How? Rather than take any fancy public speaking course, I instead did consistent routines of self-practice right in my living room, in front of nobody but myself. Understanding my nervous tics, my body language, and even the way I use my voice, helped me become the kind of strong speaker that now is up on stage in front of hundreds of people, with a ton of confidence.
So if you’re finding yourself eager to improve your public speaking game, here are the five activities you can do every week to become less nervous and more of a professional for that next speech, conversation, or presentation you have to give.
1. Talk to the wall
Challenge yourself to speak to the wall for at least two minutes straight. Why? One of the biggest things that will instantly lower your confidence and energy levels when you speak to an audience are their facial expressions and reactions. Even though, most of the time, those don’t have much to do with you. People’s facial expressions are based on their thoughts (which rarely have to do with you) and the way their face rests.
If you can practice getting through an entire conversation, or part of your presentation, with the same level of energy and volume you hope to use in real-life, you’ll get good at carrying on a presentation or speech even when the audience isn’t smiling back at you.
2. Record yourself speaking
One of the fastest ways to create a public speaking to-do list is to watch yourself speak. Put the camera on and record yourself talking for a couple of minutes. When you play it back, get over the self-judging and instead, start writing a list of body language improvements you can make as well as any nervous tics you have (from touching your hair to using verbal tics). First watch the video back with volume and then watch it again on silent to see how your nonverbal communication adds or distracts from your overall message.
3. Speak to the mirror
After you’ve learned from watching yourself on video, head to the mirror. Pretend to have a conversation, answer a question or give a 1-minute speech about what you had for lunch. While you’re talking, focus specifically on your facial expressions, since that’s what helps amplify your emotion toward a topic. Match your facial expressions to the tone of your speech so that it can help drive your message home and be engaging toward your audience.
4. Watch good videos
Take a break from watching yourself and head to YouTube or a TED Talk. When you watch other powerful and professional speakers, start to pick apart what they do with their voice and their body language to capture your attention and draw you in. Find five things they have done well that you can start incorporating into your home practice sessions.
5. Start to count your ‘umms’
Make it a new goal that whenever you’re talking to people on the phone or to someone that you live with, you stay conscious about how many times you use verbal tics and filler words (such as: umm, uhh, so, like, actually, etc.). This will help you pay attention to your word choice and the frequency of how many of these slips into your sentences. Want to get rid of them all together? Make eye contact when you speak. That will help you focus and use less of these words. If you’re talking on the phone, speak at a slower rate so you can control yourself when you’re about to say the word um.