I know speaking in front of others — whether on stage to strangers, in a meeting with your boss/clients/inventors, in group settings like at networking events, or even in casual team gatherings alongside your peers — is one of the most anxiety-inducing things anyone can do out there. And the stress is so much more pronounced for introverts who, according to Psychology Today, make up between 30-50 percent of the population.
BUT there’s a really easy formula anyone can use to reach any goal they have in mind (including becoming an amazing public speaker!), and it is:
Small Choices + Consistency + Time = Significant Results
If you’re familiar with success mentor & best-selling author Darren Hardy, you’ve seen this formula before. It sums up what’s better known as the compound effect, which states:
You stand to reap huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions that get completed consistently over a period of time.
I guarantee you’ve already put this concept to use before. Just think back to any of your proudest accomplishments.
Maybe you’ve started your own business, mastered a musical instrument, passed a professional exam, received an athletic award, gotten a promotion at work, hit your ideal weight, [insert your #BIGWIN in this blank _____]
Chances are, this accomplishment wasn’t the outcome of merely ONE big effort: one incredible meeting, one practice session, one all-nighter, one big game, one great presentation, one sweaty workout, etc., right? Rather, it was the result of a series of small steps you consistently took over a long period of time.
So, why not apply the same thought-process to the professional development goals you’re trying to achieve? Here’s all you have to do:
Step 1: Clearly define the end result you want to achieve
Step 2: Break that end result into a series of small action items you can start immediately. The trick here is to make this list so easy, that you’ll be able to accomplish each item no matter what.
As world-famous entrepreneur Tim Ferris says, change the rules of the game to make it impossible for yourself to lose… even if it means making each action item borderline ridiculous (the infamous example he uses is, if your goal is to start flossing and you find flossing your whole mouth very difficult, start with just one tooth. Then build up to two, three, four, etc. until you’ve got all your teeth covered!)
Step 3: Set reasonable milestones and remain consistent in your progress. Because remember, what’s easy TO do is also easy NOT to do. And it’s the sum of the actions we take (or don’t take) that dictate our end result
To help you come up with “small steps” toward becoming a better public speaker, here are a few options you can consider doing TODAY:
- Make small talk with a supervisor or colleague, to practice your networking while also developing a good rapport with your peers. A fun “trick” to do is putting candy at your desk. Whenever anyone stops by for a snack, make it a point to talk to them for a few minutes as well
- Commit to raising your hand to make a contribution or comment at a meeting, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel. This will help you start getting more and more comfortable with speaking in front of others
- Write “I am an articulate public speaker who can get my points across confidently” on ten different post-it notes and put them all over your office/desk/home so you constantly see it and think about it. Affirmations do wonders in changing our self talk, which plays a huge role in making us feel more empowered when interacting with external stakeholders
- Read out loud for 3-5 minutes every night, to practice your vocal stamina and get comfortable with using/hearing your voice for longer periods of time
- Make eye contact with at least one stranger every day. Aside from teaching you how to form quick connections with others, this potentially awkward exercise will show you how you react in uncomfortable situations so you adjust accordingly when faced with other uncomfortable situations… like presenting in front of a room full of people
Comment below or email me which suggestion(s) you tried and what were the results. I’d love to see what your journey to becoming a better public speaker looks like!