Public Speaking Tips from ZeFrank

Public Speaking is weird and special. Therefore, you should prepare for it.

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Public speaking is weird and special. Therefore, you should prepare for it. Here is some advice from one of my favorite public speakers, Ze Frank. I also included video of his funny Ted talk, “The Human Test”.

  • Don’t imagine that the audience is naked. Whoever thought of that has a different reaction to naked than I do.
  • Things to think about when you are creating your talk: don’t imagine what the talk would be like, be yourself.
  • There is no standard format, do what works best for you; you’ve probably been asked to speak because you know something about something. Make your talk center around that something and go from there. If you are going to speak about origami, then do your talk in the style of origami.
  • Don’t be overwhelmed – if you’re afraid, say so in your talk – have an honest talk.
  • If you are struggling to have a point in what you are writing – you may not have a point AND IT’S OK TO SAY THAT.
  • Preparing for your talk: don’t read – that’s public reading, not public speaking.
  • In your day-to-day, benchmark what “exciting” feels like. Try to bottle that up and release it in your talk.
  • When you are ready to practice your talk, do it in an empty room from start to finish without stopping. Only make corrections when you are done with the entire thing. Listening to yourself speak in an empty room will be absolutely horrific. If you can get through that, you can get through speaking on a nice sound system. Not stopping ensures that you don’t over practice the beginning and under practice the end. It also helps you learn to improvise when you forget.
  • Your mind should do two things – one side should keep the talk moving while the other handles distractions, loud noises, sneezes, etc. It really works – but for it to work, you have to practice that start-to-finish process in an empty room at least three times.
  • When it’s time to get on stage, it’s okay to be excited, scared, uncomfortable. Sometimes we confuse excitement with anxiety. Take a temperature of how you are feeling at that moment, and make that your baseline – what is normal. That way you don’t get into a spiral that you’re getting freaked out that you’re getting freaked out, that you’re getting freaked out… and if you start to freak out or freeze up, just tell the audience that. You’re already a badass for being on stage, they will have patience.
  • If you don’t know how to start, just look out at everyone and say “hi”.
  • DO NOT PAUSE after you tell a joke. If people start to talk or laugh loudly, start talking again after the peak. Think of it as a kind of surfing.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t point it out or dwell on it. just keep going. The audience has already had to sit through the mistake once, they don’t need to hear any more about it… and they will forgive you.
  • If you see someone in the audience that doesn’t like you or is giving you evil looks, ignore them. They will try to suck your soul out of your eyeballs.
  • If you need inspiration, watch a video of Spalding Gray.
  • You’ll do great.

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