Discover more from Sweet Success
Speak Up and Stand Out!
Finding Your Voice in Public Speaking
I'm here to admit something that may come as a surprise to many of you. Up until very recently, even after years of being on TV and serving as the public face of Sprinkles, I dreaded public speaking. Even very simple moments like giving a toast made my palms go sweaty. I couldn’t understand how people would jump up and pontificate in front of large groups of people without a care in the world.
What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I tackle this very basic human task? I was a good communicator, so why couldn’t I communicate in a more public forum? Sure, I had tons of TV experience, but there was something uniquely frightening about all those live human eyeballs staring back at me. Plus, there’s no edit button in real life. What if I couldn’t find my words? What if I tried to be funny and wasn’t? What if, what if, what if…
If you’ve read my book or even this newsletter for any length of time, my next step will likely come as no surprise to you. I leaned into my fear. Yes, I stared it right in the face and said I’m going to conquer you. Why? Because it was starting to hold me back. Keynote offers came and went. Panel invites went unfulfilled. These were important personal brand-building moments, and I was letting them pass by.
And, in the past year since the launch of my book Sweet Success, I've graced countless stages and panels. In fact, in just the last few weeks, I've spoken in Napa, Nashville, Tucson, and on stage at the LA Times Inspirational Women awards. So, what changed?
My journey began by leaning on the wisdom of seasoned speakers, like my friend Amy Purdy, a paralympic bronze medalist and one of the top motivational speakers in the world. Amy is constantly traveling the globe to share her inspiring story with auditoriums full of people. She has spoken for Microsoft, Coca Cola, Dell and the queen… queen Oprah! Amy helped calm my nerves by sharing her pre-speaking rituals with me. She also helped reframe my mindset, showing me that even people at the top of the speaking field have to prepare, practice and work on their craft.
Next, I started saying yes to every opportunity that came my way, from speaking at schools and non profits to guesting on every podcast (and there were a lot!). My aim was to practice, practice, practice and desensitize myself to the anxiety of speaking. Eventually I drilled much of the fear out of me and began to develop more strength in my voice.
For many of us, especially as women, we've been socialized not to speak, and instead be the quiet ones in the room. This conditioning can hold us back in so many ways, from sharing important insights to seizing career opportunities to living our fullest lives. The ability to speak with confidence isn't just a nice-to-have skill; it's a crucial one for both personal and professional development. So, whether you're about to present to a small team or take the stage in front of a vast audience, I want to share a few tips to empower you to speak with confidence and make your voice heard.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: For me, feeling assured in what I’m going to say naturally creates confidence! Not everyone is an off-the-cuff speaker. The more you know your material and understand your message inside out, the more comfortable and confident you'll feel on stage. Preparation is your secret weapon, so invest time in researching, crafting, and rehearsing your content. When you know your stuff, you feel self-assured, and the audience can relax into your message and not be distracted by your nervous hand wringing.
2. Stop Making It All About YOU: It's human nature for us to be a little self-centered, especially when public speaking. And though I definitely advise checking to make sure you have nothing in your teeth before you talk, the key to a powerful presentation is to focus your attention on your message, not on yourself. Shift your mindset from self-consciousness to audience-centric thinking. When you're passionate about your topic and genuinely believe in the value of your message, it shifts the spotlight from you to what you're saying. This mindset shift enhances your authenticity and connects you directly with your audience.
3. Use Visualization to Create the Energy You Desire: Visualization is a powerful tool. Before taking the stage, close your eyes and visualize yourself succeeding. Feel those feelings of confidence, picture your audience engaged and inspired, and embrace the energy you desire. When you've already lived the moment in your mind, it becomes easier to embody it on the stage. Visualization helps you manage anxiety and enhance your presence. It's not about pretending; it's about preparing your mind and body for a confident performance.
Finding your voice and speaking with confidence is not just about being heard; it's about owning your story, inspiring those around you and making a lasting impact.
Wishing you the confidence to speak boldly this week!