10 Things We Learned About Public Speaking During Our #AllTheRedSparkLadies Lunch N’ Learn
The tech industry lacks gender diversity and at Red Spark, we are working to change that. That’s why we decided to establish #AllTheRedSparkLadies lunch n’ learns.
It all began with a simple invitation from our General Counsel, Linda Shi. Linda was planning to watch a speech from Dr. Amy Cuddy on power posing during lunch when she decided to invite the ladies of the office to join her. After receiving an outpour of positive feedback and praise, Linda put the wheels in motion to make it a monthly tradition.
“Having worked as an attorney in various roles in the tech industry throughout my career, the issue of diversity and inclusiveness is near and dear to my heart,” says Linda. “There has been a lot written about the lack of gender diversity in startup and technology companies, but I didn’t want more talk, I wanted action! We have such a passionate and talented group of women here at Red Spark, and everyone jumped on the idea of starting a ladies lunch n’ learn group.”
Our most recent presentation focused on public speaking and how to overcome fear and anxiety. Here are ten important lessons to help with your next presentation:
Stage Fright Is Not In Your Head — There Is Science Behind it
We are wired to worry about our reputation, which leads to a fear of saying the wrong thing. We take on a “fight or flight” mentality, and more often than not, the easiest route to choose is “flight.” But anxiety isn’t all in your head – genetics play a huge role in it.
If the thought of speaking in public gives you major anxiety, practice your skills on a smaller scale around people you know. Give a toast at a friend’s birthday dinner or a short presentation at work in front of a few close co-workers to help you find your rhythm.
Mistakes Don’t Equal Failure
If you make an error, just roll with it! Try confronting your misstep with humor, instead. If you mispronounce a word, make a joke about it, and always remember your audience isn’t rooting for you to fail.
Don’t Overload Your Slides
It’s challenging to create a Powerpoint presentation and not rely on your slides to do the talking for you. But, with fewer words on the screen, you’ll be more likely to engage your audience and come off more confident in the subject matter. Try to use only important bullet points to help you transition into what you’re planning to say next.
Breaks are crucial when it comes to public speaking. Look at President Obama for instance–he has us hanging on his every word because he takes purposeful pauses during his speeches. A pause makes the audience eagerly await what’s next.
“Coming from someone who has a habit of speaking quickly, remembering to pause helps me collect my thoughts so I can better articulate them,” says Senior Associate Technical Content Manager Ashley Feucht. “[This] also cuts down on the ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ I tend to overuse.”
Slow It Down
Most people who have a fear of public speaking try to get through their presentations very quickly, but that leaves the audience confused, with little understanding of what they just heard. Slow it down. You will feel much more confident when you’re finished knowing you didn’t rush through it.
Find A Friend
Not knowing anyone you’re presenting to can be intimidating, but finding a friendly face in the crowd can help calm your nerves. Scan the room to find someone who looks engaged and present to them–you’ll be surprised at how much smoother your presentation goes.
Focus On What You Can Control
There is a reason people say “practice makes perfect.” It’s the truth! Steve Jobs used to practice his speeches weeks in advance to prepare, and if you use that strategy your presentation will be a huge success!
“Discussing public speaking with the Red Spark ladies was an excellent refresher on such an important skill,” says Account Manager Lauren Wiener. “Having the ability to speak in a confident manner is important for all of us in this industry, whether discussing advertising campaigns with a client, meeting with other co-workers to discuss obstacles or new strategies, or speaking in front of the company during a Town Hall.”
When giving a speech or presentation it is natural to want to stand still, but you should be moving around! Don’t flail your arms or do cartwheels, but gain your audience’s attention by moving from one end of the stage to the other and you’ll notice how much more engaged they become.
Get Excited And Have Fun!
Performers of any kind never say they’re nervous. Instead, they say they’re excited! If you’re passionate about the topic you’re presenting, your enthusiasm will shine through, making that speech a lot easier to deliver.