On a bright Wednesday morning, I arrived at work and swapped my Primark black sneakers for my black suede Zara 3.5 inch heels in preparation for a quick 9.30 am meeting. The meeting ended at 9.47 and just before I left the room, my colleague said “I really like your outfit, nice colours and style” I felt it. The rush of extra confidence. I know my back must have instantly straightened as well. I almost wished I had another meeting scheduled. 

how to handle public speaking And this isn’t new. Every single time I wear heels and dress really nicely, I feel like I can tackle the world. As I left her office I realised that I was wearing the same Zara forest green mid-length pleated skirt I wore the last time I gave an office presentation.

Remember when I was ‘baeless’ and thought I was going to take over the world?  Well, I didn’t. Not really anyway. But that week, I had to give a presentation to my entire department. I usually wasn’t fazed by public speaking. On the contrary, I loved it. From primary school to Uni, I participated in debates, and in Uni I compered events.  But then a  strange episode happened during my final year when I decided to compete for the biggest debating competition and then bid farewell to undergraduate life. It didn’t go as planned and it was woeful. I almost wished the grounds would open. 

So understandably, I’ve avoided public speaking since then, and I was almost panicking at this one. Thankfully, it went really well and I got some great feedback.  I’ve also had a few more opportunities to improve after that. It’s a constant process. 

In today’s world, if you’re going to be relevant, it’s hard to avoid a public speaking event. Don’t be like the interviewer in Nigeria who recently got given the chance to conduct an amazing interview but messed it up because she’s supposedly more of a print journalist not used to speaking and conducting oral interviews. 

So, here’s some top 5 tips on smashing a public speaking event:

Be a confident public speaker

1. Be confident: Easy to say. But really, be confident. And find whatever your secret confidence booster is. Pretty clothes and shoes? wearing a particular perfume? or staring at yourself in the mirror and saying over and over ‘I am confident’? Someone said taking a selfie could work as well (when you look at the selfie and think ‘darn! I’m so hot, this public speaking ain’t gonna shame me’. Experts also recommend taking a minute or two in a quiet corner to take a deep breath and power pose (i.e putting both arms akimbo). Apparently, that pose makes you feel powerful. Posture is key as well. Stand tall. Sit tall. No slouching.

2.  Break the Ice: I find that the first few sentences often determine how you feel and how people respond to you. Be mindful of your audience and if you can break the ice to get everyone settled in. Avoid crass jokes though. Please. If you’re not one for breaking the ice,  try to ensure you have an interesting opening to your speech or presentation. Same goes for the end of the speech. Make it count. 

3. Talk Slowly: This one I definitely had to learn. It’s easy to want to just ramble on. But no, ensure your words are being pronounced properly and you are speaking clearly. Not too slowly though: don’t put your audience to sleep. The danger of rambling on arises when you are giving a technical presentation or you’re not entirely sure of your facts.  At that point, everything comes crumbling down. If you speak slowly, however, you can pick and analyse your words. 

4. Lips sealed, Eyes Open, Hands in the air:  Take those occasional pauses. 5 seconds. 10 seconds. Make eye contact with your audience. Don’t bury your heads in your notes or on the projector. It may be helpful to find a couple of people in the audience who are listening attentively and nodding at you. This often boosts your confidence and inspires you to go on.  Some guy kept yawning at my presentation. I ignored him and looked at the people who were smiling, somewhat. With hands, it’s quite tricky. I personally find it weird when people don’t gesticulate or use their hands a bit when speaking. But don’t over gesticulate as you’ll only distract the audience. 

5. Know the facts and Practice: I’ve only included this in case there’s the rare person out there who doesn’t already know it. This is the crux. Know exactly what you are speaking about. Do your research, and do it well. If you’re all nicely dressed and speaking slowly but speaking rubbish, sorry you already lost. Your audience will resort to their phones to pass the time. To be sure you know your facts and can properly deliver it, you need to practise. This is probably the worst bit.  It’s no fun practising a speech or presentation over and over. But sorry, there’s no short cut. if possible, practise in front of someone who can pick holes and critique your presentation. If not, practise in front of the mirror. Or better still, video yourself and watch it later. You’ll cringe, but at least like me, you’ll probably realise that you blink your eyes way too many times when giving a presentation, and that’s not cute.  

Finally, if you’re using powerpoint slides for your speech, please ensure it is not text-heavy. If not, your audience will fix their attention on the slides and you’ll lose them. Bullet points work better.  Watching and learning from speakers is sure a great way to improve. There are a million Ted X talks on YouTube. Find the good ones and watch. Or, just listen to Barrack Obama! 

 

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, your turn! What’s your secret confidence booster and tips for slaying a presentation.

Share your public speaking experiences and tips. The Good, the Bad and the downright embarrassing!

Love, 

Kachee… Xx

pS: I once compered an event and made a joke about a certain class of people. I thought it was funny, but the audience didn’t and I had to apologise over and over. Avoid bad jokes. If in doubt, don’t say it. 


read too: On handling shyness and Why you shouldn’t use that picture on Google Images


16 COMMENTS

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16 Comments

  1. Precious

    May 9, 2016 at 13:24

    Awesome post, Kachee! I think being confident just makes everything easier. And it is important that you feel confident in yourself even before you get a compliment. When you are already confident, you sell yourself positively to others. People will likely see you the way you see yourself. Public speaking is almost inevitable when you grow in whatever field you are pursuing so thanks for sharing these tips!
    P.S. I really enjoyed commenting through disqus. It’s a shame others didn’t find it easy. The important thing though is that we can still leave comments.
    <a href=’http://www.preciouscore.com/’>Precious Core Blog</a>

    Reply
  2. BagosMutendiBlog

    May 9, 2016 at 17:38

    Hmmmmn….why do you have to be so goddamn gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood? Lol

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 09:29

      Hahahahaa. Thank you. Why do you have to flatter me so much though?!

      Reply
      • BagosMutendiBlog

        May 11, 2016 at 11:48

        Nah..but really its a compliment plus…*angling for the +1 invite when you have to speak in front of the General Assembly*wide grin

        Reply
  3. Precious

    May 9, 2016 at 18:06

    You brought back disqus? I guess my comment has been buried with the other commenting system lol. This disqus is really fun though. Hope everyone learns how to use it.Precious Core Blog

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 09:30

      I brought it back oh. The default commenting system did not allow to embed links and it’s generally not very functional I hope people really do learn to use it. Sorry your other comment disappeared. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Josephine A. Bankolé

    May 9, 2016 at 21:29

    Keep Disqus- it’s amazingly simple. Those who do not know how to use it, should learn. This is 2016.I used to do public debates too. Until one day I presented facing the wrong way (unknowingly) and clammed up. What a mess. Whilst I’m still not as confident as I used to be, I find the simple act of wearing red lipstick, will unleash an uber confident side, that got buried some years ago. Oh and prayer, a quick prayer and thinking through my words, usually helps my flow. Well let’s hope so, I’m still trying to drum up the courage for a common youtube channel. LOLAnother great post!Jo xwww.theglobalgriot.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 09:34

      I am keeping it Jo. It looks so much better and has much more functionality. Thank you!Awww. One scarred episode really tends to mess up our confidence. Yes to red lipsticks! and a quick prayer. I had that in my draft notes, not sure how I forgot to include it. Thank you.Lol! Start your YouTube channel. Go Go Go. I know what you mean though. I’m still not sure about vlogging as well. But we can do it!

      Reply
  5. Nengi

    May 10, 2016 at 13:02

    I draw a lot of confidence from my outfit too, especially heels! I generally am nervous speaking in front of a crowd but that nervousness goes away when I’m well prepared. I think I think quickly on my feet so the few times I’ve had to improvise, it didn’t go so bad. You raise great points!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 13:11

      Thank you Nengi! There’s absolutely something ’empowering’ about heels! And yes, being well prepared it generally key. Xx

      Reply
  6. Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo

    May 10, 2016 at 14:19

    Barrack Obama!!!Dazall!!!Confidence booster for me has to be BE PREPARED!!!Confidence plus Rubbish equals Nonsense and ingredients hahahahaI LOVE public speaking!!! I’m too vain for my own good hahahahahahah

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 14:22

      I can’t wait to watch your recent interview on your weightloss story. I’m sure you went in girl!Lmao @ Nonsense plus ingredients. You are such a clown. Preparedness is indeed everything..!

      Reply
  7. Motunrayo Shafau

    May 10, 2016 at 14:31

    Pretty helpful Kachi. I actually went through all of your blog posts. You’ve got a stan here.. I find that rehearsing makes me extremely anxious and I often do better when I do not rehearse.. I think speaking slowly is definitely something I could use.. Amy Cuddy did a TedTalk on confidence and body language – https://www.ted.com/talks/a

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 10, 2016 at 14:41

      Thank you Motunrayo!! That means so so much to me.I know what you mean about rehearsing making you anxious. The debate I messed up at, was probably the one I rehearsed the most. But still, i think it’s important to practise. I’ll check out that Ted talk. thank you!

      Reply
  8. Abby

    July 18, 2016 at 21:36

    I’m so nervous about public speaking! I’m an active volunteer at a yearly teenage camp but I always chicken out of facilitating sessions.Need to do better 🙈🙈

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 19, 2016 at 16:50

      I still get nervous myself to be honest. And i talk a bit too fast. I need to slow that down. We will do better!

      Reply
  9. Paulamakablog

    May 22, 2019 at 09:57

    Thank you for sharing your tips.Wearing what makes you confident helped a lot during university presentation days, preparing ahead and looking straight at the back wall. (Will get super nervous if i make eye contact and this still happens to be to the only time I made a public speech four years ago)I still have a long way to go on public speaking, putting my hands up in class/seminars to ask or answer questions.

    Reply

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