A few weeks ago, I was able to attend HubSpot’s annual conference, INBOUND, in Boston. It’s a four-day event with TONS of educational breakout sessions led by marketing, sales, and customer success practitioners. 

I could go on and on with everything I learned, but one session in particular really stood out. It was all about being your authentic self in the midst of public speaking (particularly when you’re terrified), and it was presented by Rhonda Khan, Founder and Lead Coach at Simply Speech Solutions

Khan had tons of tips and tricks for public speaking, but as I left, these three reminders really stuck with me:

Reminder #1: Don’t try to be Steve Jobs. Or Oprah. Be YOU. 

Too often, when we try to be “good public speakers,” we think about other people who are great speakers – Steve Jobs, Oprah, Brené Brown – and try to mimic them. But according to Khan, that often backfires because we’re not them – and that’s ok! 

We’re each unique. So before speaking, take a little time to figure out what makes you unique and then own that. Your individualism is a big part of what makes you personable, and that’ll help you better connect with the crowd. 

Reminder #2: The fear will come, so just plan for it. 

The bad news is, no matter how many times you speak in public, you’ll likely always experience some level of fear. But the good news is, as long as you plan for that, you can easily overcome it. 

Khan gave a tip: Prior to speaking, combat every negative thought you have. If the thought, “My work is mediocre,” crosses your mind, respond with, “No! I worked really hard on this.”

What about when you get up on stage or stand in front of a room – the physical fear that comes with that? Khan recommends just taking deep breaths – slowly in through your nose, then slowly out through your mouth. This will help calm you. 

Reminder #3: At the end of the day, it’s really not about you. It’s about the audience. 

Last but not least, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to “present.” Khan made a good point: “Your job is not to do a good job. Your job is to serve the audience.”

That said, think about what you want the audience to walk away with and focus on that. Identify your intention and then plan your presentation from there. 

For more public speaking tips (good ones, trust me!), take a look at Simply Speech Solutions

And if you’re planning an event of your own that you have to speak at, well…speaking is only a part of it. For more planning tips and tricks, check out our free guide below!