Man speaking at ted x melbourne event.

Your big moment awaits

Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

My breath is heavy. I check my notes one final time. Come on, you’ve practiced hundreds of times. Okay, you’ve got this. Go.

As I step out onto the stage, I notice how bright the spotlight is. Its radiating glare means I can’t see the audience beyond the first few tables. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. It’s a bonus I tell myself.

I glance at my notes. I open my mouth. It’s a miracle – words come out!

I deliver my piece with pace and energy. The audience responds. Laughing when I hoped they would, leaning in after I pause, clapping at the end.

I’m done.  Time to leave the stage. My heart is still racing. It might actually explode. I can feel myself smiling.

I survived.  

This is a common experience many in our TEDxMelbourne community can relate to.

According to Toastmasters, people fear public speaking more than death. It’s hard to be vulnerable in a room full of strangers, or even a room of friends and family, as many groomsmen have discovered after giving wedding speeches. Surely, death is a less appealing option, and therefore all it takes is a little courage (and a lot of preparation) to deliver a great moment on stage.

Actors, singers, MCs and comedians all over the world make a living from speaking in public. So what makes them different from the rest of us?

Practice.  Preparation.  Perspective.

If you’ve written a great piece, which reads well when it rolls around in your head, your words deserve to live loud when you deliver them to an audience. The problem most of us have is that our nerves get the better of us. That inner critic that says “are you sure you’re funny?” …. “don’t speak too fast, don’t speak too slow” …. Or my favourite “who do you think you are?  You’re not a public speaker?!

Thanks Inner Critic, I think I’ve got this.

You don’t have to be a professional public speaker to speak publicly and we’ve handpicked a few tips from professionals and people that we admire.

Melbourne Theatre Company workshops teach tongue twisters as a way to warm up vocal chords. Getting your ‘lips, tongue, mouth and brain’ ready to deliver a great presentation. The nerves are eased by recounting childish fun lines “My Mother Makes Me Eat My M and Ms on a Monday Morning” by over pronouncing the Ms as loudly as possible …. the classic “She Sells Sea Shells By the Sea Shore” …. and the somewhat naughty “Mrs Rumble Bumble has a Rough Cut Punt and a Rough Cut Punt has She”.  Go on, say it aloud and you’ll see what I mean (unless you’re on a tram right now).

Rumour has it that Cate Blanchett readies herself for a performance by putting on an imaginary crown (like the Queen that she is), a long, thick cape and before turning on her ‘heart light’ which will shine over everyone in the room, connecting her to the audience. This story may or may not be true, but we love it anyway. Imagining her going through the motions of putting on her pretend armour to get ready to be her best self as she walks onto the stage.

Feeling your nerves is also an important part of being focused before you talk or present.  Many MCs are known for pacing back and forth on the spot, breathing in and out, mumbling to themselves.  The key for them is to get in the zone, focused and ready – not complacent about doing ‘another speech’. Nerves are a way to keep on high alert so you read the audience and give them your all.

Public speaking gives you a buzz. Before you start, you’re wracked with fear and worry about all the things that might go wrong.  As you leave the stage, your adrenaline levels are through the roof and you wonder whether you might in fact be able to do this speaking thing for a living.

Give it a shot. We promise it won’t kill you.  As opposed to death, which, we all know, actually will.

Photo credit: Yossi Ghinsberg speaking at TEDxMelbourne 2018, Darrell Pearce Photography www.darrellpearce.com.au

2019
Public Speaking
Open Mic Night
Image of Tanya Simpson. TEDx Writer and marketer.
Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

Side hustle / sporadic writer who enjoys capturing the weird and bizarre moments in life. The serious side of me heads up the brilliant TEDxMelbourne marketing team and they let me capture the mood and energy from some of our events, to keep my love of writing alive.

Image of Tanya Simpson. TEDx Writer and marketer.
Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

Side hustle / sporadic writer who enjoys capturing the weird and bizarre moments in life. The serious side of me heads up the brilliant TEDxMelbourne marketing team and they let me capture the mood and energy from some of our events, to keep my love of writing alive.