Growing up, I often got into trouble for being a tad chatty in class. It didn’t matter where my teachers moved me, I found someone to talk to! Obviously I was preparing for my future career as a professional speaker and media personality! (how 'bout that past teachers?!)
I've always loved speaking to groups. I'm pretty sure I was mastering my skills in Mama Bear's tummy.
I remember when I was in middle school, whenever we had an assignment and had a choice between a written or oral report, you ALREADY KNOW I was all over option B! So to those who know me personally, it's no surprise that a large part of my career focuses on public speaking. It's no longer an odd gig here and there, but a job where I'm booked months in advanced for.
But here's the thing, it took time before I could confidently declare I was the #SlayerOfTheMic and my goal is that you'll have the same level of confidence after reading this blog.
1. Get comfortable on camera:
Before you get comfortable with an audience, you need to get comfortable with yourself! Talking in the camera to watch your facial expressions, hear your tone (we all think we sound awkward at first!)...are major factors that can keep your audience engaged or lose them completely. How did I get comfortable on camera? I acted like it was my best friend I was confiding in! "Wow! Can you believe that's what they told me?!" Could you imagine how I looked/sounded when you read that? My eyes were wide, my tone was high, and my body language was definitely expressive. I made mini clips every day and watched them back to critique myself (which was again, awkward at first but so needed). Look at it this way: if you can take selfies, do IG stories, and Snap...you're definitely capable of building on those social skills and bringing it to an audience.
2. Know your topic(s):
I can't believe I'm actually saying this but PLEASE know what you're talking about before you except people to pay you to talk about it! This is where 'fake it till you make it' doesn't apply. Did you see that clip of Justin Trudeau where they thought he wouldn’t know a thing about Quantum computing? Could you imagine the backlash he would face if he just decided to freestyle what he thought it was? When you're knowledgeable about your content, not only does it show confidence and professionalism, it demonstrates to your audience that you are worth what you’re asking. Spare your audience and your reputation your alternative facts and tell them what they need to know.
3. Don't dismiss unpaid gigs:
Instant payment isn’t everything! I can say without hesitation that if I didn't do pro bono events, I would not be the speaker/host I am today. Through social media (especially Twitter), I’ve connected with several community groups because I pitched myself as someone who can speak on a variety of topics and captivate their audience. Why was I able to do that? Because I was confident enough in my ability to #SlayTheMic. This is my theory when it comes to making money: I am paid in 3 ways - opportunities, money, and blessings. With 80% of my unpaid gigs, I:
4. Connect with your audience's energy:
I can't stress enough the importance of connecting with your audience. I can bet you remember a time you were at an event and the speaker was pretty much speaking to themselves because they weren't doing anything to engage the audience! I especially love looking out for people in the crowd who I am potentially losing. For example, I'll ask the group a question and will make eye contact with the person who needs some 1 to 1 attention. A simple question like, "anyone else been in this situation before? What about you?” is enough to wake up the stragglers because they know at some point, they may get called on and they don’t want that to happen! I'm all for audience participation as well because it brings up the energy, gives people the opportunity to share their thoughts/feelings, and ultimately allows you to hold their attention.
5. Treat the stage like it's your playground:
Once when I was hosting TEDx Distillery District, I had space to move throughout the audience and a very large stage to work with. I loved that I was able to utilize both because it made my audience feel like I was interacting with them individually. Being able to move freely, I was making eye contact with people, giving high fives, heck I even got someone dancing! Nothing bad can happen when you work the room and the stage simultaneously. This is another simple technique that demonstrates that you're comfortable with yourself and your audience. Have fun, get the audience on your side, and make magic happen on stage!
WARNING: Just make sure you pause with your movements every so often as you don't want to come across antsy.
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Anyone can be a speaker as long as you have a way to communicate. But...you have to know how to deliver your message and use your voice in a way to captivate your audience AND get booked.
Have a tip of your own? Comment below so we can learn together!
Jam Gamble - Connector of People, Ideas and Energy