Beyond The Script: Six Ways To Prepare (Mentally And Physically) For A Speaking Engagement
From doing vocal warm ups to practising your power pose, here are six hacks to ensure you can be prepared, mentally and physically, before a speaking engagement.
You've written your speech, and you have your slides beautifully prepared, but how do you maximize your performance when you get on stage? Here are a few simple hacks I've learnt over the years to ensure I'm on top, mentally and physically, before a speaking engagement:
1. Ensure the right mindset You have something important to say, otherwise you wouldn't have been approached to speak. Instead of being nervous, be grateful for the opportunity to share your views or experiences. Tune in to what you're telling yourself about public speaking, and make those messages more positive:
"I have to do this" becomes "I get to do this"
"I'm no good at this" becomes "I'm excited to improve"
2. Make time for meditation Positive thinking and meditation can make a huge difference to the success of your communication. Meditation reconnects us with that part of ourselves that gets lost, be it because of stress or nerves. With new studies emerging every day, science shows us that a regular meditation practice does the following:
Changes the physical qualities of our brain
Shrinks our fear centers
Increases our capacity for feeling joy, confidence and happiness.
After all, a confident, happy person will always deliver a better speech than a fearful one!
3. Do your vocal warm-ups Especially when you're nervous, your voice tends to break, or be especially high-pitched. Ensure you prep your vocal chords! You could do it the way I do: I sing. That helps me warm up my voice and also get excited about my speech. If you're not into singing, there are many other techniques.
Humming: Make sure to pick a song to hum that goes up and down, so you're hitting all of those chords.
The Siren: It may be annoying for others as you'll sound like a fire alarm, but it'll help you!
Ma-Pa-Ta: This is mainly for the mouth movement, and how it relaxes your jaw and lips. Make sure to open your mouth wide!
I also have a teaspoon of honey before going on stage to keep my voice in tip-top shape.
4. Practice your power pose Never underestimate the magic of power posing- and have fun with it! Think Superman, Sailor Moon, or simply putting your hand on your hips, and making yourself as big as possible- the goal is to increase your confidence levels right before you walk into the meeting room or on stage.
5. Don't forget nutrition When preparing for a presentation or public speaking appearance, we sometimes focus so much on the content that we forget about the "package." Brain health affects mental health, mental health affects physical health, physical health affects brain health. It's therefore important what we put into our body for optimal performance!
My favorite food hack is to eat foods that aid the production of abrineurin or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neural hormone that gives us more brain resilience, more brain repair, more brain power. This will help you psychologically as well as physically. The best thing is that the top four foods that provide it are delicious, i.e. nuts, wild seafood, dark chocolate, and berries.
6. Mind your wardrobe The single most important thing (and this relates to being "authentically you") is to wear what you feel comfortable in. The camera loves block colors, particularly the following shades:
Blue: turquoise, aquamarine, royal blue
Red: scarlet, fuchsia, raspberry
Purple: magenta, fuchsia, raspberry
White is also a great color for cameras and photography, but risky in terms of getting dirty.
Finally, remember to go out there, and have fun!