Janet was terrified. She had been asked to speak at her MBA Commencement. While she often had to give presentations at work in her role as a mid-level marketing manager, this particular opportunity carried much more meaning for her.
Surprisingly, Janet was the daughter of a talented speaker. Yet, instead of being inspired by his ability, she and her siblings internalized the message that there is a ‘right’ voice and a ‘wrong’ voice. She believed that she had the ‘wrong’ one and that belief crippled her confidence and hurt her professionally. Janet sought out The Speaker’s Studio to help prepare her for the event and overcome her fear.
Over 3 1-hour sessions, here is what we focused on.
- Content – As the Commencement speaker and a fellow graduate, Janet was congratulating her classmates on their success. Kate suggested Janet add references to classes, professors and moments; things her classmates would find humorous. Adding those touches made the speech more personal and helped Janet focus on her friends rather than her nerves.
- Delivery – At The Speaker’s Studio, I led Janet through a number of physically based activities designed to relax Janet and redirect her anxiety into energy and excitement.
Additionally, some of the activities made Janet laugh, which further relaxed her. I needed her to feel the physical difference of being focused on something other than her anxiety so that she knew what an impact in made on her delivery and confidence.
We also discussed the pacing and rhythm of the speech. Once Janet freed herself up physically and made some adjustments to the text, the pacing and rhythm sorted itself out. We focused on beginning well, ending well and allowing a moment to breathe before she began.
After the event here is the text I received from Janet:
“Thank you! I have never felt so confident in my voice or in my words! I got so many compliments afterwards. Thank you for helping me find my voice!
You can do it too! Have a big speech coming up? Try these tips!
- Reflect on your audience as you develop the text of your speech. What would they find funny? What do you have in common? How can you engage them?
- Practice your speech while doing something silly ~ the goal is to open up your Voice, your Breath and your Body. Do something big and fun – something that will make you laugh a bit.