public speaking

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Public Speaking: Overcoming Your Fear, Self-Defeating Thoughts, & Giving an Amazing Presentation with Jason Schemmel

Is one of your goals to become a better public speaker?

If so, you’re in the right place!

For the latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about public speaking and how you can give an amazing presentation every time. So, it’s time to overcome your fears and confidently step onto that stage!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Public Speaking: Overcoming Your Fear, Self-Defeating Thoughts, & Giving an Amazing Presentation with Jason Schemmel

Our guest host for this month’s chat was Jason Schemmel. He’s a long-time member of the #ContentWritingChat community and has joined as a guest host in the past. He’s an entrepreneur, a podcaster, and has spoken at #CMWorld.

Q1: Why is public speaking a common fear?

So many people are terrified of public speaking. But why are we all so afraid to get up in front of a crowd of people? What makes it so scary? Here are some thoughts from the chat:

Jason pointed out that some people freak out when all the attention is on them, while others fear speaking in front of others because of imposter syndrome. Worrying that you’re not good enough and consuming yourself with thoughts of what others will think can definitely hold you back.

He went on to say that preparedness can play a role, as well as your confidence levels. If you don’t speak frequently, it can feel pretty intimidating and terrifying. However, practicing and gaining experience will really help you get comfortable with the idea.

For Sarah, she used to have a fear of being judged by those in the audience. What would they think of her abilities? What would happen if she messed up? These are all common thoughts that go through a speaker’s mind, especially when starting out.

Kathryn feels a lack of control is one of the reasons public speaking can be so scary. We don’t have control over the audience and sometimes technology can fail us during a presentation. That’s a speaker’s worst nightmare!

Sometimes the fear comes from the fact that so many people are staring at you.

And as Lexie pointed out, getting on stage to give a presentation just isn’t something most of us do very often. It’s an unknown, which can cause a lot of fear and anxiety.

Q2: How long should a presentation be?

When you’re gearing up to give a presentation in front of a group of people, you have to be smart about the length! These tips will help you get it right every time:

Jason said that your presentation should be as long as it needs to be, but you still want to make sure the content is valuable to your audience. You don’t want to lose their attention!

If you’re speaking at a conference, you can expect to be on stage for about 30-45 minutes. But if it’s a TED talk you’re dreaming about, you have an 18 minute limit to stay within.

And here’s another quick tip from Jason: make sure your content is providing value. Ask yourself if you are giving your audience valuable takeaways and actionable tips they can apply later on. If not, you need to make a change!

Julia’s advice is to consider the topic you’re covering and where you’re speaking. For some events, you might have a set time slot that you have to stay within.

Lexie said to make your presentation long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting. Don’t add a bunch of fluff to your presentation or go on and on for ages.

Make sure you get all of your main points across in your presentation and do it well. If you don’t provide enough details, your audience won’t get all of the information they need. But if you start rambling on for too long, your message may get lost.

If the event you’re speaking at encourages doing a Q&A session at the end, make sure you allow time for that as well.

Q3: How can I optimize my presentation to supplement what I’m saying?

To make sure your presentation really stands out, these tips are guaranteed to help:

Jason suggests having a few credible sources to back up the points you make in your presentation. He also encourages the use of visuals, as that’s a great way to grab your audience’s attention.

Gaby’s advice is to get creative with your presentation. Ask questions, share videos, create mini activities, etc. All of these can be great ideas and will help you become a speaker that stands out from the crowd.

It’s also smart to make sure your speech works without having a visual presentation. If it does, you know you’re on the right track. As David said, you want to use the presentation to illustrate and add depth to the topic you’re covering.

Use GIFs if you feel that your audience would enjoy them. You can also incorporate graphs, charts, and infographics to present important statistics.

Kathryn’s idea to engage all of the senses is definitely a great one. She also suggests appealing to different learning styles. You can have the audience write, speak, or do other things to get them involved.

And Ken knows a little humor in your presentation can go a long way!

Q4: Should a speaker ever read from their slides? And how can you make slides complementary to the presentation?

Is reading from your slides a bad idea? Or is it acceptable? Here’s what you need to know:

You don’t want to read directly from your slides. Instead, direct your focus to your audience. Use your slides to share visuals, charts, etc. to supplement the points you’re making.

If you’re quoting someone and want to get it right, then it’s fine to read from your slide!

Remember that your visuals should never be your script. Use them to summarize your key points instead. You can reference the slides throughout the presentation to bring attention to them, but never read straight from them.

Q5: What are some ways a speaker can prepare or practice for “the big presentation”?

The time has come! Your presentation is right around the corner and now you need to start preparing. What’s the best way to practice and develop your confidence ahead of time? Here are some great tips:

Jason’s advice is to practice in front of a mirror or record yourself on camera. You can also practice in front of friends or co-workers who will give you honest feedback.

Practicing in front of the mirror is the simplest way to get started!

Michelle agrees that filming yourself is a great idea. It might be awkward to watch, but you can learn so much from it afterwards. You’ll pick up on weird habits, note places where you’ve stumbled, etc.

These are all great tips from Gaby! If you’re ready to get serious, you can go as far as to hire a coach to help you out.

And if you really can’t find anyone to practice in front of, there’s always your pets!

Just make sure you’re practicing out loud instead of mumbling to yourself.

Q6: Do you have a favorite speaker or speech that you’ve seen before? Share it with us!

For a little public speaking inspiration, check out these speeches:

Simon Sinek is one of Jason’s favorites.

Gene also thinks Simon Sinek is a great speaker!

For Julia, she also appreciates speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Marie Forleo.

Q7: What is your top tip for giving an amazing presentation and establishing yourself as a great speaker?

If you’re ready to become a skilled speaker, always keep these tips in mind:

Keep practicing! The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be.

Make sure you’re familiar with your content and the topic you’re covering. If you try to be an authority on something you’re not, people will see right through you.

Be vulnerable and prepared! When you can truly open yourself up to your audience, they’ll really connect with you.

Just do it! The more presentations you give, the better you’ll get.

Gaby says you need to define your audience, goal, message, takeaway, voice, purpose, and follow-up to ensure a great presentation.

Always listen to the constructive criticism that others have to offer.

Want to join us for the next #ContentWritingChat? It happens on Twitter on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central! Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest.

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