I’m on an adventure. My bucket list has always included travel by train. Not just any travel, but far enough that I could experience an overnight stay in a sleeper car. Hopefully, my adventure will include magnificent views along the way and the good company of other travellers.
I’m on the second leg of my trip to Halifax. As luck would have it, the cooling system in the train car I’m in is not working. Needless to say, passengers, including myself, are feeling the sweat. Makeshift fans and ice packs are not enough to make us comfortable.
Sweating it out might be uncommon on a train, but it’s not when you’re standing in front of a room of strangers ready to deliver your first speech. It happens to the best of us. No matter how confident you are with your speech, so many things can come over you. I know I’ve experienced a few.
The memory loss — Oh yes. You had the speech memorized right down to the last detail. You step up to the front of the room and all of a sudden you’ve forgotten some of the important points you didn’t want to leave out.
Slide confusion — You have your slides to help you out, but instead they get in the way. Should you deliver your prepared notes or speak to the slide? Doing both is almost impossible and sure to create confusion.
Fear of public speaking — It’s a thing. There you are at the front of the room and you’re frozen. Now’s the time to take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Remind yourself, “I can do this.”
They’re all strangers — Or so you tell yourself. This happened to me once. There I was, ready and excited to deliver my presentation. I scanned the room, and there he was, a senior leader with whom I’d work. I panicked. I looked around the room for my escape, but there was none. I wasn’t getting out of this one.
It’s natural for your nerves to betray you when you’re ready to make a speech, no matter how seasoned you are. But remember this. You practiced that speech. This is a topic you know.
When you address the room, take a minute and just breath. Compose yourself. Demonstrate your confidence by making eye contact with the audience, using voice variation and purposeful gestures. You may even want to engage the audience with a question before you start. If you get stuck, don’t worry. Stop. Pause. And carry on. 🙂
Oh the train. The problem didn’t get fixed, but they were able to move us to an empty car with air conditioning. I wonder what the rest of my adventure will bring?