In a week’s time, I’ll be speaking at a TedTalk style event called GibTalks at the Mackintosh Hall in Gibraltar. The speaking slots at this annual event are highly sought after.
With just a week to go to the event, I met up with a friend for a coffee yesterday. She asked how it was going and if I was nervous. I took a moment to respond because I wanted to search inside and be completely honest about how I was feeling. Was I nervous? I reminded myself that I still had a week to go. I mentally ran through my checklist. I know what the audience looks like. I’ve written my speech. I’ve started rehearsing and practising. I’ve asked for and got feedback on my speech. And I still have time for more practice.
With a week more of practising, I know I will deliver that speech over 30 times beforehand, and I’ll probably become sick of it. Yes, I know I won’t want to hear it again. But that’s okay because it means I won’t have to think of what I’m going to say. Instead, it leaves me free to practice my delivery. I have time to pick out the words I want to stress for maximum effect. The hand gestures I want to make to convey the right feeling about what I’m saying. I can work on varying my vocal pace and pitch so my audience won’t be lulled to sleep during my talk.
Don’t forget that public speaking is a performance. No, it isn’t acting, at least it shouldn’t be. But it is still a performance because you want what you say to matter to your audience. Even more than that, you want them to react to your speech, to feel something after they’ve listened to you. It’s all down to your performance. Never forget that.
But back to my nerves, I could tell my friend that I wasn’t nervous because I was confident that I would be ready on the day. If I had to deliver that speech today, then yes, I would be nervous. That’s because I am not yet ready. But I know I will be ready by the time I come to deliver it in a week’s time.
The best tip I can share if you’re nervous about making a speech is to practice, practice, and practice even more. You’re not ready if you haven’t delivered your speech to yourself at least 30 times. And when you’re ready, nothing is going to get between you and your best performance. Not even that pesky little thing called nerves!