I’m going to tell you all a little secret.
When I was in high school, I was one of the shyest people in my class. I was quiet and timid and rarely spoke out. I sat in class, terrified that the teacher would call on me and I would have to say something in front of 20 other people. The only way that I could say anything in front of more than five strangers was to sing it. Go choir geeks!
I’m sure at this point, you’re wondering where I’m going with this besides the fact that I’m a staunch supporter of the arts in public schools (oh, wouldn’t that be an interesting spark!). My point is that if I can get up in front of a bunch of strangers and tell them why bitches don’t actually love candles, then you can present on just about anything your beautiful heart fancies.
Do you still throw up in your mouth a little bit thinking about speaking in front of strangers? Well, here are a couple tips that can help calm your nerves and, bonus, NONE of them involves picturing the audience in their underwear.
Know your stuff. Nothing is more engaging than when someone knows what they’re talking about when they get on stage. Wait a minute. You’re presenting on something you’re passionate about, so you already know your stuff! Plus, you’ll become even more familiar with it while you prepare your deck. You’ll be a master by the time you step out on stage. You’ve got this!
Practice in front of friends. It’s important to run through your presentation alone to fine tune it, but practicing in front of friends will help you get used to having an audience. Hold up! There’s a run through a week before Ignite, so you’ll be able to practice this in a respectful, small environment and get feedback to help make your presentation even better. This speaking in public thing will be a piece of cake.
Don’t memorize your presentation. There’s a difference between remembering and memorizing your presentation. When you know what you want to say, but not the EXACT words, you can go with the flow and look more natural. Trust me, the audience can tell.
Acknowledge your jitters. I learned a while ago that ignoring the feelings you’re having will only make them worse. It’s OK to be nervous before you speak. Some people who make a living presenting still get nervous before they get on stage. Use that nervous energy to propel you out onto the stage and give the kickass presentation I know you can give.
The audience is rooting for you. No one comes to Ignite Denver because they want to criticize every presentation. They come to be enlightened by the speakers (pssst, that’s YOU!) and to learn something new. They’re rooting for you and you’re going to get a lot of cheers and clapping and hear “good job!” after you present.
Getting up in front of a lot of people seems pretty daunting and, yeah, it takes guts to do it. But I firmly believe that anyone can get up and entertain and inspire a room full of people when they’re passionate about what their spark.
So what are you waiting for? Submit a spark today! The deadline is January 25th, so don’t miss the deadline!