As speakers, we usually have two primary goals when we speak to an audience. The first is to share some of our problem-solving content. The second is to start building relationships. Those are good goals, but sometimes they can feel like a double-edged sword.
On one edge, we’re thrilled because public speaking provides us access to more people at one time. On the other, thinking about actually getting up in front of all those people can trigger our survival instinct. When that happens, our focus narrows down to fear-based done-and-run thoughts of getting through our presentation as quickly as we can so we can escape to the relative safety of anyplace else.
In my experience, done-and-run speakers rush through their presentations. Not only that, they also tend to rush for the back door as soon as they leave the stage—without talking to the very people who want to find out more about them! That’s a real concern because it’s the relationship-building conversations that take place after you leave the stage that make all the time and effort you’ve invested worthwhile.
A lot of people will tell done-and-run speakers that all they need to do is “visualize the result they desire” and everything will work out. Personally, I’m more of a “begin with the end in mind” person. Either way, if you don’t want to be a done-and-run speaker, you’ll want to shift your focus away from the result of the freedom and relief you’ll feel once you’re on the other side of the back door over to the result of successfully navigating your time on the stage and after the stage.
This is easy to work on with my two favorite go-to strategies that do a great job of addressing and fixing so many speaker problems!
Take Your Practice Sessions to the Next Level! Practice with purpose. This means standing up and speaking your presentation out loud as if your audience is actually right there in front of you. Visualize them listening to what you have to say. If your presentation includes technology, practice with it! Does the thought of doing this tweak your nerves? It should, and that’s okay because as soon as you start practicing with purpose those nerves will start to diminish. They’ll continue to diminish with each run through too. You’re “becoming one” with your content and now your nerves will have less power over you when you step on stage.
Address Any Done-and-Run Fears You Encounter Head On! Our bodies are geared towards keeping us safe when we’re in physical danger. The thing is, standing on a stage isn’t an actual life-or-death situation—even though our brain is going to do everything it can to convince us that it is. One result of this fear is that the speaker wants to get it over and done with so much that they start talking faster and end up running out of content before they run out of time. The reverse can happen too—a speaker who’s so nervous that they get sidetracked or distracted and run out of time before they run out of content.
The way speakers can address either of these situations is to figure out how fast or slow they talk versus how fast they should be talking. Once they find their speed sweet spot and start practicing with that in mind, they’ll start breathing easier, which is going to have a calming effect on their nerves. (There’s more about this topic in the speaker tip below).
Remember that every minute of your time both on and off the stage at an event is an opportunity to engage and connect with your audience. So, whether you’re an “end-game thinker” like me or a “visualizer,” make sure to visualize and/or think about your time on stage as just another manageable step you can work on. Taking the time to figure it out and then practicing with purpose will increase the odds of achieving your real goals—sharing valuable content and making connections—and reduce the chance of you being remembered as a done-and-run speaker.