Whether you’re interested in being a leader or looking to grow your business, speaking in public is a surefire way to establish expertise and credibility in your field. Unfortunately for many, the thought of public speaking is enough to cause them to shrink back and turn down opportunities that come their way.

Public speaking seems to be one of the fears that most of us share. The fear is so common that it even has a name—Glossophobia. For some, the anxiety can be more mild; for others, it can be debilitating. However it shows up, it can make the whole experience unpleasant and can cause you to shy away from sharing your ideas, stepping up as a leader and even featuring your work. It can keep you from being on that panel at a conference, making valuable connections at a networking event or doing a Facebook Live.

Luckily, public speaking is like any other skill in that it can be learned. And the best part is it can be learned through fun exercises that are far less intimidating than speaking in front of a crowd.

SMRT WOMEN and Toastmasters are partnering to offer a workshop on April 10 to help women and non-binary folks build their skills and confidence in public speaking. The workshop will feature small group settings, facilitators and fun games.

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite tips to help you get more comfortable with public speaking:

  1. Know your audience: Knowing WHO you are talking to is the best way to say something that is memorable and meaningful. When you are struck with blank page syndrome and find yourself unable to plan what you are going to say, knowing your audience is a great way to help focus your thoughts and ideas. Ask yourself who your audience is, what it is that they want or are looking for, and what problem you can help them solve.
  2. Focus on just a couple of key messages: There is a tendency to ramble when we get nervous in front of a crowd. This can happen when in front of a room delivering a workshop, it can happen in a meeting room when speaking to a project, or it can happen one-on-one at a networking event when talking about your business. Focusing on one to three key points or messages that you want to get across can help you stay on track. It can help ensure that whatever you are saying is clear and easy for your audience to follow.
  3. Prepare with bullet points: Following from the above tip, stay far away from writing a full script. Nothing is more painful than watching someone stumble through a pre-written talk, reading directly off the page and frequently pausing to find their spot. 
    Instead, write key points that you want to say and make bullet notes around these points. As soon as you feel you are writing long-form sentences and paragraphs, step back and go back to notes. 
    Embrace that your talk or your elevator pitch is not going to sound the same every time. That’s ok! In fact, that is where the magic of flow happens. When you prepare around points and key messages, you can find confidence and flexibility in what you’re saying across settings and audiences. Plus, you come off as far more of an expert who really knows your stuff, which is much harder to convey when reading right off a piece of paper.
  4. Join your local Toastmasters group: Joining Toastmasters can help you develop public speaking skills and build your confidence. Whitehorse has three Toastmaster groups, and guests are always welcome!

Rock Your Talk: Speak in Public Like a Pro is a fun workshop for women and non-binary folks hosted by SMRT POP UPS and Toastmasters. It takes place Wednesday, Apr. 10 at Baked Café from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Event details and tickets are available on Facebook and Eventbrite.