I stumbled into becoming a funny speaker by complete accident. I have learned A LOT along the way. What I learned-I actually already knew. Let me explain:
I have a degree in theatre. What I learned and even taught when it came to theatre/acting performance, audience, communication, messaging, etc., has translated perfectly to the speaking world. All the rules seem to hold true for either mode of communication-acting or speaking.
It’s taken making a whole lot of mistakes and performing a loooot of really tough gigs to finally embrace who I am. I’m a performer with a message.
I’ve done free speaking gigs, drove hours for almost no-paying gigs, done back alley gigs, comedy gigs, county fair gigs, festival gigs. My cars broke down. Someone slipped something in my drink the last comedy club I performed at. I’ve traveled 12 hours one way to have the company never pay me. Been snowed in, iced in, dust-stormed in. (I choked on-stage during the dust storm-literally. I coughed and gagged on the dirt so much, I had to walk off after only 8 minutes.) I’ve bombed on stage. I’ve killed it-and a whole lot of in-between.
Now that you know some of my creds-here’s some huge mistakes from an actor’s perspective, I see other speakers make on stage. I’ve done several of these myself.
Stage fright sucks. I know because I have it. Despite having a degree in theatre, performing stand-up comedy and giving countless speeches in front of ultimately 1,000’s, that dreaded feeling of knots in my stomach before taking the stage, still occurs.
Know What it is You’re Afraid of.
Being able to pin-point exactly what terrifies you, can help give you a game plan to combat stage fright.
So…what is it specifically that scares the snot out of you about speaking in front of an audience???
“Hi. My name is Stacy Pederson and I’m falling off my stool. Let me sit up straight. All right, that’s a fabulous intro. But my name is Stacy Pederson and I’m a funny speaker, a clean comedian, and acting and speech coach. Today, I want to share with you learning styles. What is learning styles? We all learn certain things different ways and how I discovered this was I used to teach children acting. I created curriculum for an acting school that I co-founded. Then I also was involved in children’s ministry for many years and I wrote a lot of the curriculum for that. I discovered that there’s really three specific learning styles of how we can take in information and retain it.
You’ve probably heard of it, but just in case you haven’t there’s auditory learners, which is listening, there is visual learners, which is seeing, and then there is kinesthetic learners, which is kind of a tactile, you have to move, you have to be doing something in order to retain information. So for you, if you recognize that you fidget a lot, that’s me, I’m very kinesthetic, if you have to write certain things down or you won’t remember even if you never looked at your notes again, or you got to move like pace in some way in order to retain information, you’re kinesthetic.
If you need to see something visual like you’re listening to the radio and you have a really hard time paying attention, podcast, things like that, are not your thing you either need to read the book or you need to see the video. You need PowerPoint slides to be able to retain the message, then you’re visual. Then if you love listening to podcasts and anything that doesn’t require you to move, or you can totally track with a speaker without even really needing to see them, there’s a good chance you’re auditory. A lot of people make the mistake when they give speeches and really just focusing on the auditory with an occasional PowerPoint slide. I have a really hard time. I’m totally ADD, if I was gonna be honest.
So for me, I have such a hard time paying attention especially if it’s anything longer than 20 minutes. That’s the average attention span, really, is they it’s 20 minutes, but it’s actually shortening with each of the generation’s coming up younger and younger. So if you’re gonna be talking for 25, like a Ted Talk, or 60 or a 90-minute keynote or presentation, you’re gonna lose a lot of people in the room if you don’t switch up your learning styles. So do your PowerPoints help? Absolutely. PowerPoint slides can help as long as they’re not super boring and it’s just words on the screen reiterating what you just said. If your PowerPoint slides are nothing but bullet points it’s not helping. You’re gonna want to think outside that PowerPoint box and come up with something visual.
If that’s not something that comes easy to you then I recommend hiring someone or asking just someone that you work with or someone you know that’s a little more creative, that’s a little more in tuned to visual arts then I would ask their opinion and their help because something like a really powerful image can really stick in the minds of the visual learner. That’s something that they’ll walk away with, remembering that particular image and that’s how they’ll remember your takeaway point is because of the visual you gave them, not just words on a screen. That also comes into play if you should choose to use props.
Props are something that you have on the stage that you either hold in your hand, that would be called a personal prop, or that you can use to demonstrate a visual with that helps share the story, that helps bring home the point. Basically, to be used as a metaphor. That can help visual learners as well. For tactile learners, this is where group engagement can help where you have them break apart and discuss around their tables because they’re actually get to move a little bit. Taking notes, a lot of people don’t take notes anymore because they’re typing either on their phone or their iPad. But it actually requires the handwriting to be able to retain some of that. So this is just one of the things I’ve been using in one of my recent talks about …
One of my talks is that how to be happy when your life is a mess. One of the key elements of being happy when your life is a mess is something called flow. So what I did was I just came up with this think business card. As you can see, this is the back. Then when you flip it over it just says it’s always a good idea, which I think on this screen it’s gonna read backwards. But basically through this exercise that I tell them they have to write something down that is always a good idea for them to engage in when they’re struggling. So it would be like go for a hike or play a sport or you know, pull out a musical instrument. It’s always a good idea. But it’s the actual act of writing that helps those kinesthetic learners take the point home.
How I know this works is I just gave a speech … Well, I gave two speeches this week and both times I had a couple people come up to me and say, “Wow, that card,” and that’s what they talked about. That was their takeaway and how they were gonna keep it. I knew that they is a really good chance they were kinesthetic learners because they didn’t talk about any of the other stuff. They didn’t talk about the visuals, the logos, the images, or any of the other stuff. So that’s something that you’re always gonna want to incorporate is are you hitting those three learning styles. If you’re not and you’re just focusing on auditory then you’re losing 70% of the room sometimes. So you’re gonna really want to pay attention to that.
Again, my name is Stacy Pederson. You are welcome to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to have more speaking tips if you are a sales presenter or an executive or you give speeches, deliver speeches, maybe even an author trying to get into the speaking circle. If you could follow me there or on my blog at stacypederson.com. If you’ve seen any of my other videos, you’ll hear me say, “That’s Pederson with a D.” P-E-D not Peterson. You could follow me there. I always have a link below because nobody can ever spell my name. So three learning styles, make sure you’re incorporating those. Thanks so much.