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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.

By Rachel Pether

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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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.

Related: Five Common Presentation Shortfalls (And How to Fix Them)

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!

Related: Four Ways I Dealt With Imposter Syndrome As A Female Entrepreneur In The UAE

Rachel Pether

Co-founder, The Speakeasy Club

Rachel Pether is a television host, professional emcee, investment professional, and published author. She is the co-founder of The Speakeasy Club, a venture built by her and Katherina Hicker, two communication professionals with a combined 30 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. Driven by their passion for communications, they put their focus on developing an online course that teaches public speaking skills. 

Based in the Middle East since 2008, Rachel spent almost a decade at Mubadala, one of the region’s largest sovereign wealth funds, in its capital markets and treasury team. A CFA Charterholder and chartered treasurer, the Association of Corporate Treasurers named Rachel “The One to Watch” in 2014. She is currently a Senior Advisor at US-based investment manager SkyBridge Capital, and also the global emcee for their thought leadership conference, SALT. 

Rachel began her career as a journalist and spent five years with the BBC. She currently hosts two shows on FintechTV, Digital Asset Report and TheIMPACT. She acts as emcee for numerous international high-profile events such as SALT, AIM Summit, SWFI Summit Series, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. In 2009, Rachel published her first book and helped to establish a charity called Espoir so that sale proceeds could go towards supporting youth entrepreneurship. She is a member of Mensa as well as a board member at the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. 

 

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