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How can you prepare effectively for public speaking? (Confident conversations 2/3)

Hi! How are you? In case you forgot (which I know you didn’t because who doesn’t spend their life thinking about Laura Gainor’s blog…), I’m writing about my mistakes in public speaking, and sharing my tips with you on how to avoid making the same ones. Last week, we spoke about confidence and how you can get some more if you don’t have enough. Did you try any of the challenges from last week? How did it go? I hope you continue to invest in yourself, you are capable of more than you know, and I can’t wait until the day you see it.

This week, I want to tell you about how you can prepare for public speaking.

My tip? You have to practise.

Before you skip over this because it seems obvious, let me explain what I mean by preparation- it’s not what you think it will be. Of course you wouldn’t go into a presentation having not thought about it or practised a million times in front of a mirror, but there are two tips you can take to practise before public speaking that will help you be more confident in front of others.

The first is to make sure you take every opportunity to speak in front of other people. The opportunity to speak in front of a crowd could come at any time, and if you take opportunities again and again when the stakes are low, you are more likely to do it well when it matters most, because you know what to expect. You can start by practising in front of one person you trust, and when you’re ready, start speaking up in front of crowds. This will help you familiarise yourself with what it feels like to speak in front of other people. Some ways that I did this are raising my hand in lecture halls and asking/answering questions and by contributing in team meetings. I was nervous to do these things at first, but each time it got easier.

The second tip for practising is to practise not only your presentation, but to predict what questions you might be asked. I’ve always done this, but last week I learned an extra tip at a Wildflowers of London event, ironically after I had just done a public speaking event, run by the incredible, funny and whip smart entrepreneur Lou Nylander. The event had prosecco, pizza and public speaking tips (I know right… I’ve put the link to the next event at the bottom of this page don’t worry). Jenna Davies, who is an effective and experienced public speaking coach and founder of The IAM Hub, advised to always have a backup answer in your pocket for questions you can’t prepare for. The back up answer could look something like “I don’t know about xyz… but I do know about abc… and if you connect with me after this event I’m happy to look into your question more.” You should try never to waffle on stage. Having a back up answer keeps you concise, confident and honest.