Public Speaking. Just thinking about it makes some people want to crawl into a hole and disappear. All of a sudden, your stomach starts feeling queasy, your heart rate goes up, and your mind goes blank. Even for some of the most extroverted of us, it is not an appealing task. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone: most people do not enjoy speaking in public. Trust us. We ‘speak’ from personal experience.
In keeping with our mission at R. Riveter to embolden and empower, we want to inspire you to feel confident about speaking in public, especially if you’re one of the those people who tend to shy away from it.
Here are six tips that we learned while preparing for our big debut on Shark Tank! We hope these help you gain the confidence that you deserve!
- Be prepared with what you want to say. The best-case scenario is one in which you are the expert on your topic. If you are not the expert, though, do your homework and learn as much as you can about your topic in the time allotted. There is nothing that will calm your nerves more than knowing what you’re talking about -- especially when you're about to go swimming with "The Sharks!"
- Know Your Audience. For one thing, you need to know your audience so you can tailor your talk appropriately to them. In our case, it was a panel of some of the most brilliant minds in business! We quickly learned that it helps to do your research on your audience so that you will anticipate what questions may be asked!
- Rehearse Your Talk. Have your talking points ready and know how you want to elaborate on them. Practice your intro out loud. Sometimes all it takes to get over your nerves is a good start to get you rolling into your talk. If you run through your whole talk out loud ahead of time, you’ll also have a good sense of how long it is. You usually run longer than you think you will. We spent countless evenings at the shop, with our team, rehearsing like crazy. Each time we ran through our presentation, we felt a bit more confident.
- Prep Your Props and Visual-Aids. Visual aids, such as Power Point slides (or American Handmade bags) can be a great complement to your talk. Just make sure all props and visuals are ready beforehand, and have them easily available. Fortunately for us, the tech-side of our big talk was covered by the talented team at Shark Tank, but if you are flying solo be sure to check and double-check any equipment prior to getting up on stage to make sure it’s working. Lastly, always have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong.
- Engage Your Audience. Talk to them from your heart. Look them in the eye. Be passionate and enthusiastic about what you’re saying. Incorporate personal experiences into your talk. The more familiar you are with your topic the easier this will be too. Getting in front of the Sharks was one of the most exhilarating and frightening moments of our lives. Telling them our story and how it effects us on an emotional level left us extremely vulnerable. In that moment, they weren't 'The Sharks,' they were a group of strangers. We had to trust that they were hearing us and we were explaining ourselves well.