Speaking tip: First few minutes

Inspired by the facilitation tips and the learning I add when I do the Training From the Back of the Room course, I’m going to add some posts on various speaking tips. Speaker Challenge: The first 5 minutes are absolutely terrifying for most people.  Some people forget how they wanted to start, some are shaking physically, some are overwhelmed and become at a loss for words, and some can’t find their voice period.  And even if you are not afraid of public speaking, the first few minutes often still has extra adrenaline coursing through their bodies that they speak really fast or start laughing, etc. First, as I noted, this is common and not a sign you should never speak in public.  So let’s dive into some tips that might help!
    • Have them discuss something (in pairs, at the table, etc) regarding the topic.  You only have to get one question/instruction out and then the attention is no longer on you, which will give your body time to relax a little.
    • If you find you can’t even get that instruction out, create a slide with the question/instruction.  Then you can simply welcome or even point to the slide to get them started.  Again the attention will be off you for a few minutes.
    • While the attention is not on you, walk around. Movement gets oxygen to the brain and allows you to relax.  Even take a couple slow deep conscious breaths to help increase the oxygen.
    • If you don’t want to start with an exercise, have the first paragraph of your material memorized.  I don’t recommend scripting everything.  However, practice in a mirror th pace, volume, and words that you want to begin with.  Have these flow as if second nature.
    • Have water nearby but do not, I repeat do not touch the water in the first five minutes.  Why?  Because if you are shaking, the water is going to spill everywhere – on you and be very noticeable to the audience, which may make you more nervous
Remember, the audience wants you to succeed.  The trick is giving your body/mind time to release the initial rush so you can focus on your message. What technique do you use during the first five minutes of public speaking?
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