You must be thinking I’m crazy stating such a title, as to how comes someone who is shy, lacks confidence and is an introvert can go on to be a great speaker…well that’s exactly how I would define myself. The ability to be a great speaker starts with the burning desire to address an issue which deeply frustrates you or you feel you need to get your voice heard. It’s known as finding your purpose.
I have always been and probably will always remain an introvert…finding it difficult to start conversations with a small group of people or to debate on topics. I always seem to let others do the talking. Yes, I’ve travelled the world and transformed lives with life changing talks and ever powerful stage presence. The question is how?
I’ll break it down into 3 key factors:
1) Building Confidence Through Change in Setting
I’ve always liked to explore and visit multiple places. To stay zoned in to one location never gets my creative juices flowing. I see myself as an explorer who is open to the idea of learning new things on my own. When it comes to building confidence, this played a huge part. For example:
I used my urge to explore as an opportunity to find new elements about me that enabled me to get ideas from my mind and transform them into a source of script writing that set a framework for what I want my speech or talk to be about. It allowed me to think of the end goal I want achieve and work backwards to ensure I provide the correct message on how to get there. This helped create a 20 to 30 minute speech which always had the ability to add additional content and references as my talks and experience evolved.
Nothing helped me more than the importance of constant practice, recording myself and hearing myself back. Did I like what I said? Where was I too strong or too weak with my points? What can be added or changed. The importance lies with questioning yourself to want to better improve your outcome.
2) Vocals, Expressions and Stage Presence
No matter what you do or what you think you’ve done, others will judge you on the first instance they either hear about, see you or the way you present yourself on stage. That’s all inevitable and the element of being judged cannot be changed. However, the factor of ‘How’ we are judged will and should always remain in your control.
I get nervous and I tend to get cold feet before a mega event, it’s ok, it’s normal, but it’s always important to not show it and realise that the larger the audience, the easier it is. Why? One person laughing at me is nothing compared to 99 others who are glued to what I have to say. I see it always in percentages. So, don’t let the 1% control you and what you have to share.
Looks and personas say a lot about you before you even say a word. Are you dressed right? Is that how you want to be remembered?
The moment you start speaking…I say start with a bang! Your first minute on stage is where you win or lose an audience. If you have their attention from the first instance, you control and will always remain in control of how you shift moods, feelings, thoughts and reactions of the audience.
Utilise the stage, use your vocals and tone of voice in a variations in accordance to the importance of the message you deliver. Don’t be afraid to pause. It’s never about rushing a speech! In fact, an hour may seem daunting but when you are in the swing of things, you’ll see time flies.
Your facial expressions should never be the same. Always show the importance of what you are sharing through a look that shows deep thought and when needed smile and be jolly when it’s less serious and more humour.
Remember, you always want to be remembered for what you shared, so make sure you end with your key points summarised and thank the audience for being patient with you. Let them leave early, it’s always a good sign.
Taking on board criticism is an important factor for self improvement and learning. For every event you do, get feedback and build yourself around these valued feedbacks.
Gather testimonials and from these you can you to promote your work. As a speaker most of my business comes through referrals. If you please and impress someone from what you share, you never know what opportunities could land your way.
Always know the message you need to deliver and that it is aligned with what the event is about. But don’t forget to always challenge yourself with new environments, topics of speech and address other subjects that could be of value.
To conclude, I’ve travelled the world and delivered hundreds of events. But forever I am an introvert, often shy and don’t mingle much. But I use this to my advantage through speaking. When others hear about me and learn about me, they are more likely to approach me after events to say hi and hello. I see it as the ‘ice already broken’ and there’s common ground which connects us.
Confidence is a matter of practice and challenging yourself to bring new aspects of you which you thought never existed.
Remember, a successful speaker is someone who isn’t afraid to confront the boundaries of their own imagination and let their writing and speaking lead the way with creativity and storytelling.
Born to Serve, Live to Inspire