Is your speaking too ‘safe’?

Far beyond your comfort zone lies Public Speaking Fear-land… the scary dark place that holds all the areas of public speaking you limit yourself from. Nooks and crannies that hold techniques and tools that you think are “inappropriate” or “not right for me”. But when you step beyond your comfort zone, you’ll realize you’re a more powerful public speaker than you ever imagined…

comfort zone - public speaking play it safe

We all have things that are holding us back from being the brilliant public speaker that we wish to be. The biggest of them all is the urge to play it safe.

If you’re going to become a truly inspiring public speaker, learn that great speaking lives outside your comfort zone. This is where the most energy, power and connection with your audience lives. By learning to live beyond your comfort zone, you can turn public speaking fear into public speaking “gimme-some-of-thatexcitement.

Here are eight ways to stretch your public speaking beyond your comfort zone into a place of power.

1. Use your toolkit wisely

Every speaker has a toolkit. A set of tools they utilize to engage the audience- the body, the voice and the mind.  How can you stretch your usual habits to bring extra power to your message?

  • Do you make eye contact or look at the floor?
  • Where are your hands? In your pockets or flailing above your head? Are you using gestures or hands straight at your side? 
  • How’s your body? Do you slouch or stand stiff as a board? Is your head up or buried in your notes? 
  • Attitude is everything. Are you expressing excitement or fear about giving your presentation?

2. How vulnerable are you? 

It may feel crazy to think, but the speakers who connect most with their audience are willing to show themselves as human beings, with difficulties and emotions:

  • How much can you give of yourself when you speak?
  • Getting personal by sharing stories?
  • Can you make mistakes and laugh at yourself right along with the audience?
  • Can you bring yourself to to share your fear, passion, or sadness when you speak? 

3. What’s your perfect audience type?

Could you stretch yourself to take on different types of audience or situation? How would it be if you stretched yourself to speak to:

  •  CEO’s?
  • Children?
  • Small, intimate audiences?
  • Larger crowds of hundreds? Thousands?
  • After dinner speech?
  • What about speaking on TV?
  • Any audience, any situation, anytime?

4. Are you fresh? Are you able to rock the boat?

What’s your “norm”, routine, or favorite technique? Powerful public speakers bring energy to their talks by trying new ways to engage their audience:

  • Do you stay with the tried and true PowerPoint?
  • Are you willing to use games or video? 
  • How many props do you use?
  • What about role plays or debates? 
  • How can you bring play to your public speaking?

Exchange fear for confidence- Nerves or excitement

5. Topics please?

Are you playing it safe with the territory you’re willing to speak about? If we’re willing to spread our thinking and influence wider, it can bring depth and richness to our normal subject:

  • Do you always talk about the same subject?
  • Could you give an impromptu speech?
  • Do you utilize the same material time and again?
  • What if you spoke off-the-cuff to help the audience see your topic in a different way?

6. Content style

What type of content are you drawn to in building your argument? The best speakers are able to pull on a variety of different
types of information, to make sure that they tickle the needs of the whole audience. Which of the following could you do more of?

  • Just the facts: Figures are our friends. Bring rigor and credibility through scientific information.
  • Discussion led content: let the group have a say. Let’s see what happens!
  • Inspirational: preach it sister! I’m the one giving the emotion here… watch me!
  • Persuasion: the gutsiness to sell your idea in new and different ways

7. Bringing your full personal power

More scary than most is bringing your full force of personality – but this is precisely what’s needed if you really want to move an audience. Think:

  • Do you give your self permission to change the mindset of your audience?
  • Can you ask something of them? To change… think differently? 
  • Could you make them mad to prove a point?
  • Have you found your gravitas?
  • How easy could you say NO, and disagree with your audience? 
  • Does telling a hard truth come easy?
  • Could you handle the audience disliking you to promote change? 

8. Let your personality serve the audience

We all have different aspects of our personality – so how can you use the different edges of your personality to bring benefit to your public speaking? Ask yourself:

  • Where is your charisma?
  • Could you change your personality to suit your speech?
  • If it was needed for the occasion, could you be…
  • Excited?
  • Silly?
  • Profound?
  • Serious?
  • Challenging?

This seems like a lot of questions. It IS a lot of questions. Until you get all “questiony” with yourself, you’ll never find the areas which scare you silly. Great public speaking is all about challenging yourself to do what needs to be done, to take that next risk – achieve that next level.

Many speakers reach a plateau in their ability. They think “Hey I’m okay with it… the audience will be too”. Truth is if we’re not changing and growing, this is when our audiences disconnect from our message. Everyone, every single one of us, can improve our public speaking mojo show.

By finding out where your comfort zone ends… you can then begin to grow. Let’s grow together… the Ginger way. Watch this space. 

And yes… this post is littered with links. A veritable treasure trove of Gingery goodness that you can link to and learn. You’re welcome. :) 

 

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Sarah Lloyd-Hughes is a popular speaker on confidence and inspiration, an award winning social entrepreneur, founder of Ginger Training & Coaching and author of “How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking” (Pearson).

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