The key to your talk’s success is preparation. Obvious, I know. Here’s a process I recommend:

Stage 1: Write your material.
+ Start thinking (and even better, speaking) about the subject, and capture those ideas in some form. The aim is to quickly build a basic structure that is strong enough to support the complete talk. This is the foundation. Just keywords. No full script, please. Start rehearsing as soon as you can. The actual event is you speaking, so start practising the speaking bit pronto.

Stage 2: Get your head straight.
+ To counter the emotional fearful response to speaking, remind yourself of the FACTS. Fact 1 should be ‘I’ve written my material’. Facts 2 and beyond can be: ‘I am not in physical danger’, ‘The audience wants me to succeed’, and ‘I know my stuff; being asked a question I don’t know the answer to is completely OK – I’ll say “I don’t know” and move on’.
+ Accept yourself; your weaknesses AND your strengths. Say them out loud and own them. A massive – and ongoing – task perhaps, but essential as part of your speaking confidence and speaking preparation.

Stage 3: Go for a walk.
+ Get outside, get some perspective and see how this talk fits into the grand scheme of things. You might see that it’s not quite as significant or intimidating as you think.

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