This morning, I spoke for a wonderful group of women in town. I noticed something different this time: I wasn’t quite as terrified. In fact, I enjoyed myself. I laughed. I socialized. I did my thing.
I loved it.
What’s changed? Well, first of all, I’ve gained confidence due to a few new tips I’ve added to my collection of public speaking wisdom:
1. They don’t have to like you. The real question is this: Are they learning? This takes the pressure off of you and puts the Bible (or your topic) at the center of the conversation.
2. Wear suitable clothing so you don’t have to fuss over it. Over the years, I’ve learned to always wear a skirt or pants with a waistband that works to hold a microphone pack, a jacket or sweater that the mic can clip on (unless it’s over the ear), and clothing that hides sweat. I’ve learned that uncomfortable shoes never work. Kick off the stilettos (unless you truly love them) and stick to the loafers or flats.
3. Invest in your appearance. I hesitated for years to spend money on my appearance. It seemed shallow, self-obsessed, and wrong somehow. It seemed ungodly. But I’ve learned that if you’re going to be on stage, in photographs, and at your book signing table, you really don’t want your appearance to distract people. You want to look professional, tidy, and put together. You want to find makeup that will last all day in bright lights that might make you sweat. Find a setting powder to put over good foundation (I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear and Revolution Setting Powder). Pay for a good haircut with someone who really knows hair. Go ahead and get a gel manicure (they last for a few weeks and won’t chip). Figure out how to wear false eyelashes that will minimize your need for mascara and eyeshadow and won’t smear (I use the Duo glue and natural looking lashes for big events). Finally, I wear a long-lasting matte lipstick in a more neutral tone.
I cannot emphasize enough the difference it makes to feel comfortable and put a look together that you don’t have to worry about. Walking on stage and feeling confident in your clothing and hair is worth a bit of investment. And if you don’t have a big budget, don’t worry; most of my outfits are from the thrift store. I wore a thrift store outfit this morning! Nobody knew!
Most of all, you’re there to teach, to inspire, and to lead. They don’t have to like you. Think instead of teaching, not performing.
If you are reading and have some kind of speaking event approaching, I hope these tips help you!