How to kick the fear of public speaking in the b…

public-speakingIt is said that on the fear list, public speaking comes before the fear of death. It has even its own word: glossophobia, coming from the Greek glossa, meaning tongue, and phobos, meaning fear. The symptoms of glossophobia can vary and are numerous: dry mouth, trembling body, sweating, just to name a few. In her article How I Got Over My Fear of Public Speaking, Kelly offers a good set of advices, from her own experience, on how to overcome glossophobia. I although introduced 3 simple hacks to better speak in public and 5 deadly mistakes to avoid to be a good speaker.

Whatever your audience, whatever your topic, and whatever your public speaking skills, anxiety and fear always kicks in. There’s a story one of my mentors of public speaking that I particularly like: A young actress, after a play, goes to see the great Sarah Bernhardt and asks “madam, I never add stage frights, is this normal?” Sarah Bernard answers “Don’t worry, it comes with talent”. Just to say it’s completely normal to have stage fright, it’s actually a nice feedback loop that helps us remember the essential things to do to get good at what we are about to do.

Here are a set of behavioral tips and tricks to feel better when you are about to deliver a public speech:

  • Shout! If you can find a secluded place when nobody hears you, go there and shout the loudest you can. It will help a lot empty the tension you have.
  • Stand right! Pull your shoulders backwards, push your breast forward and stand right. Exaggerate the movement before setting the foot on stage, it will relieve the tension in your upper body.
  • Put one foot slightly ahead of the other! A little bit like martial art practitioners. This will provide a better balance.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply! Breathing is essential, breathing slowly will lower your cardiac speed and lower your anxiety
  • Look at your audience, spotting friendly faces! There are always friendly and smiling faces in an audience, look at them like you were speaking to them one on one, but do not speak only to them, move your eyes around, and come back to those friendly faces.
  • Accept mistakes and failures! You tongue will trip. You will forget a sentence or a paragraph. All this, and more, happens, even to the best. The only way to avoid this is to rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. If you do not have the time, accept little mistakes

One thing that most people do not realize is that the best speakers, the Obamas, the Jobs, etc. are prepared to the max. They have a prompter, they have coaches, and they have rehearsed dozens of time. There’s no shortcut to being a great public speaker, but the above simple tricks will help you getting better and better.

All the best!

The power of emotions

Day 645. Why is storytelling so powerful? Because of emotions. There’s no other way to get decisions fast without emotions. In business, emotions have been banished for a long time. Business decisions are said to be made on hard and cold facts. While it’s somehow true, we all know we can tell any story on any number. Look at who politicians are telling different stories on the same numbers depending they are part of the ruling party or of opposition.

For most people it’s the story that matters. Not the story itself, but the story and the storytelling. How you tell the story is crucial because you will derive emotions from it and emotions will drive decisions. Emotions play on specific part of the brain, generate specific neurotransmitters and influence decision. If emotions were outside of any decision process, marketing would not exist. That’s marketing that drives a part of the sales, the projection you make in your mind, the story it helps you tell yourself. Emotions and stories are intertwined. This is the power or stories, and the power of emotions.

When a startup founder pitches to a VC, it’s a well-known fact that the story matters more that the numbers that are merely “hope-casting”. When a salesperson pitches to a customer, the story matters about why and how the customer will benefit from the usage of the services or product sold. Remember the last time you got a raise, a promotion or made a successful sales. How did you feel? Good? You thought you were the king of the world? Next time, paint that picture to your customer. People do not purchase services or goods for their benefits, but for the experience they will have, for the emotions they will feel. This is how powerful emotions are. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have cables any human being like this. Find your customer’s motivation and the sale is made. Selling with emotions is the most powerful sales technique, less taught though!

Laugh, cry, or rant, emotions are the fuel of any human being!

5 common mistakes to avoid to be an accomplished public speaker

Day 616. I’ve been attending presentations yesterday from 8AM until 7PM, with more than 15 different speakers. All of them (but two, and I will tell you who later) did at least one of the below mistakes. By doing them, they diluted their message, minimized their impact and reduce the retention of the key points they presented. It’s sad because public speaking is not rocket science, anybody can become an accomplished speaker, and if you avoid those 5 deadly mistakes, you will have the impact that less than 5% of public speakers have. Let’s go:

  1. Speak to the screen behind you. I wrote a rant on this a couple of weeks. Screens do not hear you, your audience does. Never, never, never speak to the screen behind you. Either you have a monitor (or a prompter) in front of you that shows you what’s projected (this is your crutch) or you know your script. But please, speak to your audience.
  2. Read what’s on the slides that are projected. Any audience can read. If you read, you do not need to present, just show the slide and shut up. Better, send the slides to the participants, they can read them sitting on a couch or wherever they want. Slides with more than 5 lines of text and 8 words by line are bad slides. You may disagree with the numbers I am giving, I just put them here, I could have used 4, 7, or 6, 10, it’s just to say that less is more, actually it introduces the next mistake.
  3. Give facts, only facts. Slides or not slides, empty slides or full slides, facts are boring. If you need to provide facts, send me a document with the facts and the numbers, I can read it sitting on a couch, drinking coffee. Come on! If you want your audience to remember something, you need emotions, and you can provoke emotions only by telling stories. I always remember my area VP telling us during one of our mid-year reviews: “I can read, so don’t waste my time paraphrasing what’s on the slide (and those are not slides, but full pages written in font size 10 with tons of facts), tell me the story behind the facts” Even at that level of business, the story is more important than the facts.
  4. Speak in the dark. If I come to listen to you, I want to see you. You may have a wonderful setup, but if the scene is not correctly lit, you lose 50% of your impact. People cannot read your body language! A theater scene is not lit so you cannot see your audience (if you never set a foot on a theater scene, imagine the lights are so powerful, you cannot see the audience at all), they are lit so that your audience can see you. The side effect of this lighting is you cannot see the audience. A little bit lit the headlight of a car: you see what’s in front of your light, but if a car comes from the opposite direction and has its headlights turned on, you cannot see behind the lights.
  5. Go without rehearsing. If you read what’s on the slide because you are discovering the slide while projecting them, do not insult your audience by coming on stage. Go back to where you come from and come back when you will be prepared to tell me a story that will make me dream and wanting to act.

Public speaking is an art! Like all form of arts, it require training, rehearsing and “acting”. Acting means a lot of things, from the words you are using, to how to tell those words and to where to tell them. It’s not rocket science. Respect your audience! You may not have the time (or do not want to invest the time) to become a professional public speaker, but at least do not insult your audience by coming unprepared.

You want to know who were the 2 speakers who all respected the above points: a lawyer and an HR director. Lawyers are trained speakers and HR director’s job is to respect their people (at least good ones), no surprise they knew how to have a real impact.

Hey, hey, I’m here! Speak to me!

Day 604. We all know that when you deliver a speech, you need to speak to the audience. Actually, your audience is generally here to listen to you. Interestingly enough, if you were to speak to a friend, you would probably naturally look at him or her while speaking. Then, why on earth when a lot of speakers deliver a public presentation they look at one or two people, or worse at the screen behind them?

To enhance your public speaking skills, here are two simple tricks to ensure you speak to your audience, all your audience:

  1. Pick one or two nice faces in the audience and spend some more time looking at them to get comfortable. Your aim is to look at each people in the audience at least once. Try it, it’s fun! However, as some faces will not inspire you for whatever reasons, go back frequently to the ones you pick as your anchors.
  2. If you need to read your slides, look at your computer screen, never at the screen behind you. The computer! Not the projected screen! Yes, this means the computer needs to be in front of you. Every presentation software can duplicate the screen. PowerPoint even has a presenter mode that displays the note and the next slide. Remember, the screen is behind, the audience in front. Speak in front!

Yes, I know, some of you will say, yes, I know this! But next time, check if you looked at the screen behind or if you did get eye contact with every person in the audience. I bet yes and no, respectively. This requires conscious feedback and decision to look at the audience and not at the screen behind. It may become a second nature, but only with training. Enjoy!

The most important leadership skill…

Day 560. How do you become a respected and successful leader? As Lao Tzu wrote: When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ Hundreds of books have been written on leadership. Over the ages, leadership has changed and the necessary skills to be considered a good leader have changed too. However, all good leaders have one thing in common: they succeed through others. All good leader need others to deliver the vision. And to be able to lead others, they need one crucial skill and that is: speaking.

We all learn to speak by listening first, then by learning the rules, mostly grammar. However, what is barely taught is the how and the what (the content, not the rules). Words can lift you up, can tear you down, and can even kill. How you deliver those words can be the amplifier. Words and their delivery, a.k.a. speaking, is the most important skill of all because this is one you cannot delegate. You have to learn it, you have to rehearse, and you have to master it. The good news is it can be taught. Clubs like Toastmasters will equip you with the right skill set to speak and to lead.

Speaking is not difficult but it’s powerful. It requires understanding of its power and a lot of training. Once you master the art of speaking, you need to polish it, slowly, skillfully. The best investment you can do for yourself and for others!

The art of public speaking in 3 easy hacks

Day 555. Public speaking is said to said to be feared more than death. It’s so feared that it has its own word: glossophobia. If public speaking scares you, the best advice I can give is to join an organization as Toastmasters international or take courses to overcome this anxiety and help you deliver confidently speeches. However, over the years, with training and experience (nothing replaces experience in that matter), I came with three easy and simple hacks to overcome fear of public speaking. They do not require a PhD to understand or to apply. It’s jolly effective though! Here they are:

  • Write and rehearse. At the exception of impromptu speeches, all prepared speeches need to be written in extenso. From the first to the last word. Not that you will be reading your speech, but writing is the first killer of anxiety. The second killer is to rehearse, rehearse, and when you are over, rehearse again. For a national contest, I repeat a minimum fifty times (yes fifty, five zero) my speech. I will know it by heart, but will rarely deliver the same words. It just anchors the flow and the ideas. Even the best actors rehearse, so should you!
  • Breathe. Breathing is essential to speaking. Because while speaking you exhale, you need to inhale. Focus on your breathing. I actually do a dozens of deep breathing before stepping on stage. Not only it will calm you down, it will add extra oxygen in your blood that can get you a little bit dizzy, this will contribute to getting relaxed.
  • Speak slowly. Let me tell you that everybody speaks too fast! If you think you are going too slow, record and listen. There is a big chance you will find you still speak too fast. You need to slow down from the beginning to allow you to breathe, to articulate, and to pause. If you speak slowly, you can accelerate to emphasize some dramatic pieces. There is a difference between pace and tone. You can have a joyful tone while going slowly. Do not fall in the trap of becoming monotonous, but allow yourself to slow down.

Of course, this addresses only the delivery of any public speech and not its content. The content will require another post, but you will find in this article from, 20 great advices, as well as 20 TED and TEDx videos to see different styles and effectiveness. I want to live you with one simple thought: stage fright is normal. Everybody has it! The day it disappears is the day you are becoming complacent and do not grow anymore. Do not be scared by stage fright, welcome it! It’s the signal that what you’re about to do matters to you! Just go and plunge!

Parler en 3D : 10 trucs simples pour devenir un meilleur speakerSpeak in 3D: 10 easy tricks to become a better speaker

Pendant la convention annuelle Toastmasters, en juin dernier, nous avons eu l’honneur de voir et entendre Douglas Kruger en action. Douglas est le seul speaker à avoir gagné cinq fois le championnat de prise de parole en public d’Afrique subsaharienne. Il est aussi le seul Africain à avoir atteint la place de second du championnat mondial à Reno en 2004. Douglas est un speaker incroyable. Un de ses conseils est de parler en trois dimensions. Il s’agit d’un concept tout simple qui peut faire une réelle différence lorsque vous prenez la parole en public.

Le monde est tridimensionnel

Avez-vous vu le film Inception ? C’est un film en quatre dimensions dans lequel les rêves s’enchevêtrent à un point que l’on ne sait plus si on est dans le rêve ou la réalité. Cependant, dans de nombreuses scènes, la caméra tourne autour des personnages, particulièrement quand la camionnette tombe du pont. Que vous ayez ou non aimé le film, il est impossible de ne pas être fasciné par l’utilisation de la 3D. Il en va de même avec un discours.

L’audience ne fait pas que vous écouter, elle vous regarde. De nombreuses études ont montré que la communication non verbale est plus importante que la communication verbale. Ceci signifie que le ton que vous employez, les inflexions de voix, vos expressions faciales sont les clés du succès de votre discours. Deux aspects que j’approfondis ici concernent les mouvements de votre corps et l’occupation de la scène.

Bougez votre corps

Vous avez un corps, servez-vous en ! Quand on entend parler de gestuelle, on pense naturellement aux bras et au besoin de les libérer du corps. De nombreux apprentis speaker me demandent quoi faire de leurs mains. Doit-on les mettre dans ses poches ? Peut-on les joindre ou les poser sur son ventre ? La meilleure réponse me fut donnée par une actrice de la Comédie Française qui fut un de mes professeurs : vos mains ? Laissez-les au bout de vos bras ! Ceci signifie que si vous bougez vos bras naturellement, vos mains suivront.

Cependant, vous avez une sphère virtuelle devant vous décrite par les mouvements de vos bras à 180 degrés dans toutes les directions. De nombreux speakers ont tendance à faire deux « erreurs » : ne bouger que la moitié de leurs bras, oubliant celle située entre le coude et l’épaule, et ne les bouger que latéralement. Voici cinq astuces concernant ce que vous devez faire de vos bras :

  1. Servez-vous de toute la longueur de vos bras. Chaque bras a deux charnières principales : le coude et l’épaule. Utilisez-les toutes les deux de façons à occuper tout l’espace disponible. Se faisant vous libérerez votre poitrine, permettant une meilleure respiration. Faites quelques exercices de gymnastique avant de monter sur scène pour détendre vos épaules et permettre à vos bras de bouger entièrement.
  2. Faites vos gestes vers l’avant. Douglas Kruger a partagé que les mouvements vers l’avant sont symboles de confiance. Vous pouvez bouger vos bras vers l’audience pour donner un conseil ou conclure, ou depuis l’audience pour l’emmener avec vous dans votre histoire.
  3. Pointez la main, pas le doigt. Si vous voulez pointer quelqu’un dans l’audience, ne le faites pas avec le doigt, cela pourrait être perçue comme une agression. Utilisez toute votre main tendue, la paume légèrement tournée vers le haut.
  4. Bougez de façon asymétrique. De temps en temps, ne bougez qu’un seul bras, alors que l’autre reste le long de votre corps. Cela ajoute de la dynamique à vos mouvements.
  5. Jouez avec vos mains et vos doigts. Les dernières charnières de vos bras sont les poignets et les doigts. Vous voulez donner trois conseils, montrez un, deux et trois avec vos doigts. Vous voulez asséner une vérité, fermez votre poing. Faites de vos mains et de vos doigts vos alliés.

Vos bras sont des engins fabuleux, mais elles ne sont que deux des parties mobiles de votre corps. Vous pouvez aussi vous servir de vos jambes et de votre tête. Par exemple, en vous baissant, tout en ralentissant le rythme et en réduisant la puissance vocale. L’audience se redressera alors sur sa chaise et se mettra à écouter avec application. Il s’agit d’un moyen simple d’augmenter la tension dramatique.

La scène est votre huitre

Douglas Kruger a expliqué qu’il se tient immobile quand il veut mettre en évidence un fait – tout en continuant à se servir de ses bras – et se déplace quand il raconte une histoire. C’est là que la scène prend toute son importance. Si vous voulez avoir un impact maximum, vous devez vous servir de toute la scène. Voici une série de cinq astuces pour « posséder » la scène.

  1. Déplacez-vous vers l’avant et baissez-vous pour ajouter de la tension dramatique. Bouger vers l’audience montre votre confiance et sera perçu par l’audience comme si vous veniez à elle. Utilisez ce mouvement quand vous livrez votre conclusion.
  2. Découpez la scène en neuf zones. Visualisez un jeu de morpion avec neuf quadrilatères et posez-le sur la scène. Quand vous répétez, servez-vous de zones données à des moments spécifiques de votre histoire. Cela vous forcera à bouger, tout en ancrant votre confiance.
  3. Ayez une chaise à disposition. Une chaise est un ustensile indispensable. Vous pouvez monter dessus pour simuler une ascension par exemple. Vous pouvez vous y assoir pour vous reposer ou jouer une scène de votre histoire, ou la retourner et la chevaucher. Une chaise est simple et très utile.
  4. Oui, vous pouvez montrer votre dos. Bien sûr la plupart du temps vous faites face à votre audience. Cependant, si vous voulez montrer un point sur un horizon imaginaire, tournez-vous de trois quarts et pointez l’horizon. Tous les yeux, y compris les vôtres, se tourneront dans la même direction, ayant pour effet d’emmener votre audience dans votre histoire.
  5. Rester immobile pour mettre un fait en évidence. Si vous vous déplacez continuellement, l’audience risque d’avoir le mal de mer rapidement. Comme je l’ai indiqué précédemment, déplacez-vous quand vous racontez une histoire et arrêtez-vous quand vous voulez mettre en évidence un point important ou amener une conclusion. Simple à mémoriser et à utiliser dans un discours.

During the Toastmasters Convention, last June, we had the privilege to see Douglas Kruger in action. Douglas is the only speaker in Africa to have won the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking a record five times. He is also Africa’s only 2nd place World Champion! Competing in Reno, Nevada in 2004. Douglas is just an amazing speaker. One of his numerous advices is to speak in 3D. It is one of those little concepts that can make big a difference when you give a speech in public.

The world is in 3D

Have you seen the movie Inception? This is a four dimensional movie, in which dreams are within dreams within dreams within dreams, to a limit you are not sure whether it’s a dream or reality. Each time, space is used around the character, particularly when the van is falling from the bridge. Whether you liked the movie or not, it’s impossible not to be fascinated by the way the camera uses the three dimensions. The same goes with a speech.

The audience is not only listening to you, it’s watching you. Numerous studies have shown that non-verbal communication is more important than the verbal one. This means that the tone you use, the way you move, your voice inflexions, your facial expressions are keys to the success of your speech. Two key aspects that I want to emphasize here is how to use your body and to own the stage.

Move your body

You have a body, use it! When we talk about body gestures, we tend to think first about the arms, freeing them from the rest of the body. I am sometimes asked by wannabe speakers what they should do with their hands. Shall they put them in their pocket, can they join them, should they put them on their belly, etc.? The best answer came from one actress from the Comédie Française who used to be my teacher: your hands? Leave them at the tip of your arms! This means that if you move your arms naturally, your hands will follow.

However, you have half a virtual sphere in front of you. Lots of speakers tend to do two, what I can call mistakes: moving only half of their arms, forgetting they have another half between the elbow and the shoulder, and moving them only aside. Here are 5 simple tricks on what to do with your arms:

  1. Use your arms in their entirety. Each arm has two main hinges: the elbow and the shoulder. Use both. You will occupy all possible space, and large gestures free your chest to breathe better. You can do some exercises before going on stage to ensure your shoulders are relaxed and ready to allow your full arm to move.
  2. Make gestures in front. Douglas Kruger shared that gestures in front depict confidence. You can move your arms to the audience to make a point or from the audience to take it to you.
  3. Point with the hand, not the finger. If you want to point at the audience, do not point a finger alone, this will be perceived as an aggression. Use your hand, palm facing up.
  4. Make asymmetrical moves. Sometimes move only one arm, while the other stands still on your side. This adds drama to your gestures.
  5. Play with your hands and fingers. The last hinges on your arms are your wrist and fingers. You want to give three advices, show one, two, and three with your fingers. You want to make a strong statement, close your fist with intensity. Your hand and fingers help you.

Your arms are fantastic but they are only 2 moving parts of your body. You can use your legs and head as well. For instance, by lowering yourself while slowing down your pace and dropping slightly your voice, you increase intensity. The audience will be forced to straighten on their chairs and listen intensely. A cool way to add some drama.

The stage is your oyster

Douglas Kruger explained that he’s standing still when making a point – though using arms gestures – but moving around when telling stories. And this is where the stage plays its role. If you want to be impactful, you need to use the whole stage, walking up and down, right and left. Here is another set of five tips to work the stage:

  1. Move forward and low to add intensity. Moving to the audience will show confidence and will be perceived as the speaker coming to the audience. Use this trick to give the conclusion of a story to increase the drama in the closing.
  2. Cut the stage in nine different areas in your mind. See the stage has a tic-tac-toe board, with nine quadrilaterals. When you rehearse, use each square for specific stories. This will force you to move around when telling stories, while giving you anchors for confidence building.
  3. Have a chair ready. A chair is a great prop. You can climb on it to simulate stepping on something. You can sit on it just to rest if you are speaking for a long time or to play a scene of one of your stories. You can turn it and horse-ride it. A chair is simple and very useful.
  4. Yes, you can show your back. Of course most of the time, you will be facing your audience. But if you want to play showing a point on the horizon, you can turn three quarters from the audience and point to the imaginary dot. All eyes, including yours, will be looking in the same direction, and this will include the audience into your acting.
  5. Stand still to make a point. If you continuously move, the audience may become sea sick. As said at the beginning, move while you tell stories but stand still when you want to make a point. Simple to remember and to include in your speech routine.

Convention Toastmasters Maurice – Juin 2013Mauritius Toastmasters Convention – June 2013

Une vidéo couvrant en moins de 20 minutes une journée de convention. De quoi donner un petit aperçu des talents mauriciens. J’ai eu l’honneur et le plaisir de présider le concours du meilleur speaker (après l’avoir gagné il y a quelques années déjà).

La cerise sur le gateau est l’intervention de Douglas Kruger, cinq fois champion d’Afrique de prise de parole en public. Appréciez ! 18-minute video of the Toastmasters convention (Thanks to Patrick). Just giving an idea of Mauritius talents. I had the honor to chair the best speech contest (after winning it some years ago).

The icing on the cake is the speech delivered by Douglas Kruger, 5 times best African speaker. Enjoy!


7 astuces tirées de TEDx : comment faire des discours incroyables (et déclencher une Standing Ovation)7 TEDx Hacks: a Cheat Sheet to Delivering Awesome Speeches (and get Standing Ovations)

TED est une conférence des plus connues de notre planète bleue. Créée il y a trente ans (la première édition eut lieu en 1984), TED attire les conférenciers et les penseurs du monde entier. Afin de permettre aux personnes à l’extérieur des Etats-Unis d’y assister, TED a engendré des conférences sous licence, appelées TEDx, en 2009.

Le premier TEDx Maurice s’est tenu fin janvier avec cinq conférenciers, dont le champion olympique Chad le Clos, le musicien mauricien José Thérèse et moi-même. Tout en étant un honneur, faire un discours à TEDx est très prenant. Il y a cependant 7 astuces qui m’ont aidé dans ma préparation. Les voici donc, prêtes à l’usage pour un discours public ou pour présenter vos idées pendant votre prochaine réunion.

  1. L’audience, l’audience, l’audience ! Parlez pour votre public, pas pour vous-même. La seule chose que veut savoir un public est ce qu’il va en tirer personnellement. Prenez en compte à qui vous vous adressez et surtout de comment chaque personne du public va profiter de votre discours.
  2. Coupez, coupez, coupez ! Partez avec un principe simple : vous serez trop long. Quand vous préparez votre discours, coupez votre premier jet en deux, puis le second d’un bon tiers. Vous serez alors sans doute un tout petit peu trop long !
  3. Simplifiez, simplifiez, simplifiez ! Laissez Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious à Mary Poppins et le jargon aux textes imprimés. Alors que vous écrivez votre texte, contentez-vous d’idées et de mots simples. Votre audience est votre guide. Elle en sait moins que vous, inutile de l’abandonner avec des concepts complexes.
  4. Des histoires, des histoires, des histoires ! Racontez des histoires ! Pas des histoires extraordinaires, des petites histoires familières, comme se plaît à les décrire Douglas Kruger, 5 fois élu meilleur conférencier d’Afrique australe ( Les histoires transmettent des valeurs et illustrent à merveille vos propos.
  5. Personnel, personnel, personnel ! Soyez personnel ! Parlez de vous, pas pour frimer, mais pour partager votre expérience tout en étant authentique. Ce qui vous est arrivé peut arriver à tout le monde, offrez donc votre expérience. C’est un moyen superbe de mettre des sentiments sur la table sans être larmoyant.
  6. L’espace, l’espace, l’espace ! Si vous devez parler sur une scène, servez-vous de tout l’espace. La vie c’est le mouvement. Votre corps parle et la communication non-verbale est aussi importante, si ce n’est plus, que la communication verbale. Bougez, courrez, sautez, observez, vous êtes vivant !
  7. Répétez, répétez, répétez ! Il n’existe aucun meilleur moyen de se préparer que de répéter. Beaucoup ? Autant que vous le pouvez ! Personnellement, je répète mes discours de compétition au moins 28 fois. C’est mon chiffre porte-bonheur.

Un bon discours nécessite du travail. Un grand discours nécessite beaucoup de travail. La bonne nouvelle est tout un chacun peut apprendre les techniques nécessaires. Lancez-vous ! Ressentez l’excitation d’être sur scène. Après la chute libre et l’amour, il n’est pas de meilleure sensation.TED is one of the most famous conferences happening on our little planet. Created thirty years ago (the first conference took place in 1984), it attracts the best speakers and thinkers worldwide. To have people beyond the US to attend these talks, TED has spun off into local events named TEDx, in 2009.

The first Mauritius TEDx event took place last January and gathered five speakers, including Olympic champion Chad le Clos, musician José Thérèse and myself. Although an honor, delivering a talk at TEDx is taxing. However, there are 7 basic tips that helped tremendously in my preparation. Here is therefore a cheat sheet that can be used for a public speech or for presenting your ideas during a next meeting.

  1. Audience, audience, audience: speak for your audience, not for yourself. The first thing anybody wants to know is: What’s In It For Me! Consider who you are talking to and how each member of the audience will benefit from what you say.
  2. Cut, cut, cut: start with a simple principle, you are always too long. Go to the point quickly. When you prepare your speech, cut in half the first draft, and a good one third of the second draft. And you may even be too long.
  3. Simplify, simplify, simplify: leave Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to Marry Poppins and jargon to written papers. While writing your text, use simple ideas and words. Your audience should guide you, it knows less than you but do not alienate it by using complex concepts.
  4. Stories, stories, stories: tell stories. Not long or extraordinary ones, but “small close to home” ones as describes Douglas Kruger, the 5 times best Southern Africa public speaker ( Stories carry value and illustrate the points you want to make beautifully.
  5. Personal, personal, personal: make it personal. Talk about yourself, not to brag, but to share your experience while being authentic. What happened to you can happen to anybody, so allow others to learn from your own life. It’s a great way to put some feelings on the table without being phony.
  6. Space, space, space: if you happen to speak on a stage, use the whole space. Life is movement. Your body speaks and non-verbal communication is as important, if not more, as verbal one. Move, run, jump, look around, you’re alive!
  7. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse: there is no better way to get prepared than to repeat. How much? As much as you can, too much does not exist. Personally, I rehearse my contest speeches at least 28 times. It’s my magic number.

A good speech requires some work, a great speech requires hard work. The good news is anybody can learn the required skills. Jump and do it! Feel the exhilaration of being on stage, after skydiving and love, there is no better feeling.