Can you remember back to your first day at school? How strange and frightening it all was. Every thing was new, and you had no idea where things were. What would happen if you needed to use the bathroom…?
Your overwhelming emotion was a fear of the unknown.
And yet – after a week you were beginning to feel more comfortable. You knew where things were, you were becoming aware of the routine. And after a month – well you were right at home. It was comfortable and it was familiar.
By becoming familiar with the environment, you had removed that first fear; the fear of the unknown.
This is a lesson we can take to heart in public speaking. If we forget to familiarise ourselves with our speaking environment, we too can be overcome with that fear of the unknown; become apprehensive about the outcome.
But it is a simple thing to overcome – we just take the time to visit the venue prior to our presentation or our speech. Getting to know the area we are speaking from can help us to feel comfortable when the time comes to start talking! We are more familiar with the set up; we know where the lectern is situated; we understand the sound system. We have discovered how to set the lap top up and if it is compatible with the data processing system.
If we make the effort we can meet with the organiser, and find out who will be introducing us, and if they would prefer us to provide the introduction (what an opportunity to get it right first time). We can find out about the audience (See A is for Audience) so that we can tailor our speech to meet their expectations.
This does take time and effort, but the rewards are phenomenal; all that fear and angst just disappears, and on the day you are already amongst friends. You will have enough to worry about anyway without burdening yourself with something you can fix.
But, what if you cannot arrange to familiarise yourself well before the day; if the venue is too far away or time does not allow for it? What can we do then?
Then, we must absolutely, without fail get there early! Try for at least one hour ahead, two if possible. This will give you time to meet with the organiser and your emcee. You will still be able to check out the equipment and make sure of where you need to sit, and how you will approach the speaking area.
Public speaking can be a nerve wracking experience for many; but if you take the simple precaution of familiarising yourself with where you will be speaking from you will be like that school child – right at home.
Michele @ Trischel