Aunty B: Speaking in public scares me silly — please help!

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Dear Aunty B, 

I’ve been asked to speak at industry event for the first time next month and the thought of getting up on a stage in front of a room of other business owners scares me silly. It’s a great opportunity for my business but I’m worried that I will embarrass myself and my team.

Aunty B, please help me! 

Freaking out,

Melbourne

Dear Freaking out,

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. In my experience, the lead up to an event like this is often scarier than the actual event itself. And the best thing is, it sounds like you’ve got a few weeks up your sleeve to get ready.

The key to not only appearing confident but being confident when speaking is public is being prepared.

Start with the topic of the event. What have you been asked to speak about? If it’s your own business, great! No one knows your business better than you. If it’s about industry trends or developments, start doing your research. What have you observed within your own business that can support your talk? Are there some expert sources that you can draw on?

Also think about who you will be speaking to. Will the people in the room be from the same industry as you? If so, you might be able to assume they already understand the basics. This frees you up to spend most of your allocated time offering your analysis and insights.

Give yourself some time to practice how you will deliver your talk and consider asking a colleague or family member to listen. Saying the words out loud will do wonders.

Communications expert and SmartCompany blogger Catriona Pollard also has a great tip for what to do when you’re up there on stage and talking – “find the lighthouses in the room”.

“They are the people that are engaged and listening to you,” Pollard says.

“Speak to them and they will feed your energy. It works every time.”

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Be Smart,

Aunty B

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I’m SmartCompany’s resident Agony Aunt. Have a problem to solve? Just ask. @IamAuntyB #AuntyB

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