Public speaking is, quite literally, some people’s worst nightmare. The feelings of self-conscious awkwardness can start long before you ever take the stage. This is totally normal.
We know how scary public speaking can feel. But we also know that with the right preparation, you CAN approach the stage with confidence and leave your audience wanting more.
Plus, we believe in the power of women telling their stories. We’ve seen the life-affirming connections that can result from being vulnerable on the microphone.
So we’re covering the 5 p’s of public speaking below. We’ll go over the biggest misconception when it comes to preparing for the stage, and we’ll walk you through how to prepare like a pro. Because stage fright should not get in the way of the world hearing your story.
The Biggest Misconception About Public Speaking
The biggest misconception about public speaking is that WHAT you say is more important than HOW you say it.
Don’t get us wrong – your content is important too. But without giving your body, voice, and energy a little TLC before your event, the content will fall flat.
The best public speakers think about themselves as actors. And, like an actor, they know it’s their job to embody their character and their character’s energy on stage.
Actors prepare for performances in two ways:
- They know their content like the back of their hand
- They warm up their body and their voice
Unless you’re an actor, it’s likely that you feel more confident preparing your content for the stage than you do preparing your voice and body.
Here are some ways that actors warm up their performing muscles:
- Physical warm-ups – you want your body to feel loose and ready to perform
- Massaging your face – release the tension in your face muscles
- Stretch your face – loosen your jaw and release any tightness
- Tongue twisters – improve your articulation and steady your breath
But warming up your voice and body aren’t the only aspects of good public speaking.
The 5 P’s of Public Speaking
These go beyond warming up your voice and your body. The 5 P’s below will help you take your great content and ensure a great delivery for an engaged and adoring audience.
- Permission – Most of us have not trained as actors. And we’re not used to claiming the spotlight for ourselves. So it can be helpful to consciously give yourself permission to take up space with your voice and body so that you don’t rush off stage.
- Preparation – By now you know that you have to prepare your content AND your body. Get comfortable with your words. Get comfortable embodying “stage energy.” And practice practice practice (see #5).
- Play – Playing around with your performance before you actually deliver it can take an “okay” public speaker to an outstanding one. Play with your voice. And play with how you move your body. Remember – you’re an actor who’s embodying a character. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different characters.
- Pacing – If you get nervous when the spotlight hits you, it’s likely that you’ll unconsciously speed through your presentation. So you need to practice putting measures in place to slow down. Allow yourself time for your important message “to land” and sink in so your audience can process that message and how it applies to them. Remember your words are a gift and you get to enjoy the process of gifting the audience with your words.
- Practice – No surprise here. Like anything, practice will help you feel confident and prepared. As silly as it might feel, we recommend that you practice in the mirror. A mirror will help you see your energy and body language.
Claim Your Microphone
Your story is worth telling. And with the right preparation, even the shyest among us can feel confident on stage.
To listen to past That’s What She Said performers talk about their stage preparation, tune into The She Said Project Podcast.