Overcome Fear Of Public Speaking With Great Preparation

“Be Prepared”

Although I was never a Boy Scout, their motto holds especially true when it comes to reducing your public speaking fear. The more you know your material and the more you have rehearsed, the more confident you will be during showtime.

It seems ridiculous now, but I can go back to presentations years ago where my preparation was non-existent or just plain wrong. I essentially reviewed the material but did not even go through a mock presentation. When I say mock, I mean at least verbalize the talk out loud. It helps with inflection and just hearing the sound of your own voice in the moment.

Know Your Material

The first thing you can do is to *really* know the material you are covering during the talk. Knowing your material inside and out will give you extra confidence. Spend some extra time understanding, in depth, each piece of the talk you give. I typically like to think about what questions my audience may ask. This forces me to prepare better; I’m also ready for the end of the presentation where you open the floor for questions.

Know the Setting and Event Details

Gather as much information as you can about the details of your talk or presentation.  This will build some extra comfort and allow you to tailor the event to your advantage.

  • If part of a larger event or meeting, what time will you be going?  Would you prefer to go in the morning or afternoon.  Usually, you don’t really have a choice but if you do, pick a time where you feel relaxed and alert.  Earlier is probably better so you’re not stressed out all day waiting.
  • Are you first in a lineup?  Last?  Before/after food?  I like to know if I’ll have some time before I’m up to just mentally relax.  Sometimes you’re stuck in a room and have to just sit and listen until you’re up; that can be tougher.
  • How much time will you be allotted?  Make sure your verbal practice sessions are shorter than your time slice since you will likely be asked a few questions.
  • Go check out the room if possible or request information from the organizer.  Is it just a meeting room with a projector and table?  Or maybe it’s more of a hall or stage – if so, will you be able to use (or must you use) a podium?  Will there be a mic available?
  • What is the format for the presentation?  Is the organizer combining everyone’s materials for one slide deck or are you expected to plug-in your laptop and work directly from that?  Will most people be standing to present or working behind their computer?  You want to know so you can practice the same way.

These details make a big difference in how you prepare your materials and how you practice.  You do not want to be surprised, so get as many of these details as you can well before the event.

Knowing the setting gives you another preparation point – being able to emulate the circumstances of your talk in practice sessions.  I have literally went through live practice sessions at the event location – this includes planning out where I want to stand and imitating use of a mic.  I think most people with public speaking anxiety do a lot better if they know what’s in store for them.

Getting Your Talk Ready

If you know your background material and have gathered as much information as you can about the event and location, you should be able to put together your slides and other presentation material.  Now this is highly subjective based on the talk, but I would suggest keeping it simple.  For example, on slide decks I like to do 3-5 bulleted items per slide – I tend to structure my bullet points as guides or triggers that help me remember what I will say during showtime.  If you are giving a speech that does not require slides  you may want to prepare cue cards or a cheat sheet to help you out.  Regardless, you need to come up with enough material to fill up the time slot you have allocated.  A good general rule is a no more than 1 slide per minute allocated.  I’ve seen people show up with 50+ slides for a 5m talk! Don’t do that.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Now comes the fun part – verbally going through your presentation and making adjustments as necessary.  Edit your presentation/talk as needed then continually repeat until you are satisfied.  While verbally going through the talk, you should look for ways to simplify your bullets (this makes it much simpler for yourself), cut out fodder or tangents, reword phrases or topics so they “cue” you better.  For myself, some sentences I know I’ll say have to be reworked so they sound more natural.

At some point, you will feel pretty good about your job and you can just rehearse to yourself or some friends or family if you’re comfortable.  I like to go through my talk at least 10-20 times before the event.  It sounds like a lot but the majority of those are me just talking to myself out loud to get the inflections and pace correct.

Depending on the magnitude of the event or talk, here are some other things that really help:

  • Do at least one run-through at the event location if possible, going through where you will stand, where you may pace, hand motions, mic usage, etc.
  • Video tape yourself to hear how it sounds and how you look.  I just use my laptop webcam now, which works just fine.
  • Time yourself and make sure you leave at least 5-10m for questions.
  • Give your presentation to your significant other, family, or close friend(s).  They may not understand the content, but can provide feedback on your delivery.

Doing live practice and video taping can really help get you comfortable and confident; this should help reduce your fear of public speaking as well.

Q & A Preparation

As mentioned way above, a good exercise to go through beforehand is to anticipate what questions the audience may ask.  Think of 5-10 that you can prepare answers for ahead of time.  This builds depth in your expertise and is just adds another level of confidence.

Summary

While you may not be able to fully get rid of your public speaking anxiety, you can certainly reduce it by being very well prepared.  While the ideas may seem time consuming, they have worked pretty well for me, even to the point where I can spend less time preparing and still feel fairly comfortable about a talk or presentation.  Give it shot next time and good luck!

Making Time in Your Schedule to Study

We all have things to do in the day that may prevent us from studying. Perhaps you have a full time job or you have a family to raise. Whatever the case may be, you probably struggle working in time to focus on your studies. This is not a good thing though because it could hold back your grades and your education as a whole. Rather than being the victim of a busy schedule, you should make an effort to study whenever you can. If you are a motivated person willing to go the distance with your learning, you could do quite well in college.

Here are some tips to help you work in a time to study in school.

Study a Little Bit Every Day

You are more likely to retain the information you learn if you take it on in short supply. You could make time to study every night of the week right before bed, and then your mind would have a chance to absorb the information while you sleep. Just study a small set of words, lists, or facts for 30 minutes before you go to sleep at night, and then you will slowly be able to build up the knowledge you need. If you have a busy schedule as a whole, this may be the only way you can work in time to learn.

Listen to Your Lectures

A lot of professors have podcasts of their lectures that you can download and listen to on the go. You could also find audio files of your textbooks to listen to when you don’t have time to read. That gives you a chance to learn while you are driving in the car or working out at the gym. If you play the information while you are falling asleep, you may be able to retain some of it subconsciously. You don’t have to be right next to a book to study. You just have to find a way to learn the information in it. Audio files can help you do just that.

Study at Lunch

Sometimes the only way you can study for class is to do so during your lunch break. Bring a sandwich to work and eat it out in the car while you read. That way you are guaranteed to have peace and quiet when you study. If you have breaks during work that you can use to study just a little bit of information, use them wisely. You might be surprised by how much you can learn in your off time.

Make Time

At the end of the day, it is your job to make time for studying. You may have to sacrifice some time in front of the TV to do that, but that is a small price to pay for a good education. I don’t care how busy you are or how much you think you have on your plate. You can take some time to study for your courses. This may not always be easy to do, but it is far from impossible. If you do not have time for some homework, ask for help the professional essay writers.

Try to get yourself in a studying rhythm so that your schedule does not change from week to week.

If you know when to study for each of your classes, you will have a better time retaining the information you need for your tests and quizzes. Study for your Tuesday classes on Monday, your Thursday classes on Wednesday, your Friday classes on Thursday…whatever you need to do to get the information in your mind. With a little planning, you should have no trouble learning everything you need to know for class.

Insider Advice on Making Money with your Travel Blog

This guest post is by Amar Hussainand is Part One of a Two Part article.

Text Link Ads

I remember the first time I ever sold a text link. It was for 3 months and I got completely ripped off. Still at the time I was over the moon. As a blogger when you make your first buck that’s when you’ve made the move from amateur to professional, by definition anyway. I’ve come a long way since then and it’s not been smooth sailing. Trial and error has taught me different aspects of monetization and I will share with you some lessons that I’ve learned.

To give you a little background on my blog. It’s just over a year old and is PR3. I’m not a big name blogger, I don’t have massive stats and I’m not a regular feature on Top 10 lists. Sure the accolades and the prestige would be great, but they don’t pay the bills. What actually makes me sad is there are blogs bigger and better than mine but they have no idea how to convert what they have into financial reward.

Blogging started as a hobby and then I realized its potential for monetization. I run a business, not a blog. Don’t get me wrong I think the community we have is great and I have made some fantastic connections. I see my blog as a means not an end. Yes I like making money but only because money enables me to do the thing I love; Travel.

I’ve tried various monetization strategies mainly text link ad sales and affiliate links. I’ve had more success with text link ad sales and currently average $1800 a month from these. So how do I go about leveraging this? My top tips for you…

Be open

I lead a busy schedule but I do my best to hop around on different blogs and discover new ones. It’s actually infuriating when I see a good blog and I think to myself I’ll get in touch. Do I see a contacts page? Is there an e-mail address? I mainly see this with newer blogs but if I was a perspective advertiser how am I to get in touch with you? Something I see rarely is an advertising page. Are you open to advertising and what do you offer? Advertisers will trawl through many blogs to find yours and you need to make it easy for them. One of the best examples I have seen of an advertising page is on GoBackpacking.com. Personally, I wouldn’t list my advertising rates mainly because I think it improves your negotiating position. Sometimes advertisers have come in and offered me more than what I would have quoted.

Be seen

When I first started getting approached by advertisers I used to ask them where they found me. A lot of the time they responded that they found me on a blogroll or comments. Exposure is paramount. I do a lot of link exchanges which means that not only do I get back links and referrals but my blog’s name is out there. It’s also great for networking too. Some of my friendships in the community started this way.

Be prepared

I’m a slave to my e-mail but this is for a good reason. One time I didn’t respond to a potential advertiser until a week later. By the time I got in touch he had already spent his advertising budget. An early bird really does catch the worm. I have a template e-mail saved meaning that when I receive an advertising query I can respond quickly. The most common query I get is “what advertising do you offer and how much does it cost?” Work out what advertising options you are willing to offer and how much you will charge for them. Always set the price slightly higher. This way you have room to negotiate the price down to an acceptable level.

Be practical

The industry standard is for payments to be made via PayPal. I’m sure most of you have one but in case you don’t it’s worth setting up. Getting money out of anyone who owes it you is a pain and it’s no different with advertisers. I once had an advertiser that would transfer money monthly, well that’s what they were supposed to do. I spent that much time chasing them each month that I actually refused to work with them again. Time is a valuable commodity too.

My advice would be to upgrade your PayPal account to a Merchant account. This enables you to create subscriptions that will automatically transfer money to you from the advertisers account. Alternatively, and more preferred by advertisers, is to be paid for a fixed term. I normally shoot for 6 or 12 month ad lengths which means that I don’t have to go through the renewal process too often. As an incentive I will offer a discount for a 12 month ad or if they opt for multiple links. For something like this I offer around about 10% discount.

Be organized

I have a spreadsheet that tracks all my advertisers. When I see that an ad is about to expire I get in touch in advance to inquire if they want a renewal. They aren’t going to come to you and say “oh yes we owe you more money.” It’s your responsibility to keep on top of it all. It’s also important to keep track of the amounts in case the same company come back and want another link. You can easily work out what they have been quoted before. Finally, I always keep in touch with advertisers. That really does mean all of them. This includes ones that have decided not to go ahead at all and long term advertisers. I check in every 2-3 months to see if they have any new clients that they are representing and need advertising for.

Be transparent

This should go without saying really. If it’s a sponsored post, say so. I always put a disclaimer in my posts. Not only is it best practice but it’s the law. I’d like to think that readers understand that you should be able to profit in some way from all the free content that you provide. People prefer honesty at the end of the day. If you are writing a sponsored review ensure that you are writing a fair and balanced review. Let the advertiser know that you will only agree to write an honest review before you accept.

 

Create a Powerful Pillar Post

Why should I visit your blog? What do you have to offer me that will make my life better, easier, brighter? We all fall in love with our blogs. We love the little space on the internet that we have created, we marvel at the coding we learned to change the background color from gray to a slightly darker gray. We are sure that others must appreciate this work, the thought and energy that went into it.

The truth is harsh. Most people will give your blog 2 seconds before moving on. There are a number of factors besides great content that go into a decision to stick around and dig further into a site, layout and design, calls to action, rhetorical questions, something unexpected to name just a few (we’ll explore these in later posts). However, content is the quickest aspect to identify, test and change if needed. You can tell very quickly how social media reacts towards it, how often it is shared, and how much traffic it brings to your blog.

What is a Pillar Post?

A Pillar Post is the best content you have that feeds the burning desires of your target audience. It is what ideally you would want every reader to see first, to hook them and get them interested in what you are writing, the ideas you are advancing. Over the course of the life of your blog you will write a lot of content, hundreds if not thousands of posts. Within this gold mine you need to have a few posts that orient the reader to what you are all about, that provides structure, answers questions and like a good pillar holds up the mine from collapsing.

6 Characteristics of a Powerful Pillar Post

  1.    It should be evergreen content. This means that the information in it does not go out of date. It doesn’t matter if someone finds it today, tomorrow or in 1 year. The message will still be relevant, useful and shareable.
  2.    It should be relevant to your site and reflect the core values of your story and mission. People might love a “best wordpress plugins for travelers” but if your main topic is Family Travel than it will confuse your readers and the message of your site. It will also lack the authority you have built up in your niche. A better use of your time would be something like “5 Tips to Travel with Kids” or “10 Reasons Children Make Travel Better.”
  3.    It should be scanable (yes I just invented a word). Breaking up posts with headers and sections is good blogging practice in general, but with Pillar posts it’s even more important. Readers should be able to grasp the meaning, sections and how it will help then in just a few seconds. They are more likely to read or at least skip to the sections they are interested in if you make it easy on their weary internet eyes. List posts make very good pillar posts for this reason
  4.       It should answer a question or a need. A post that provides value to a reader, or solves a problem will be one they are more likely to bookmark and share.
  5.       It should be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. This goes hand in hand with points 3 and 4. Google loves lists and sections as it can determine what the post is about easier. If you are answering a question or a specific need (i.e. how do I travel with kids?) your post is more likely to come up higher in the rankings. You should have 2-3 keywords and phrases that you want your post to rank highly for (more on how to do this well in future posts). But lay the ground work now and your life will be much easier in the future when we discuss link building and SEO.
  6.    It should be prominent. If you’ve followed 1-5 and you have a rocking post it would be a shame if no one ever saw it other than when you first posted it. Build internal links to it on your site. Promote it consistently throughout the life of your blog. Show it off on your home page with links to pages like “Get Started” “What We’re All About” or continuing with our example “Family Travel 101.”

Pillar Post Examples

I have created pillar posts for both Todd’s Wanderings and for the Travel Blog Challenge that reflect the different focus of each site. For Todd’s Wanderings I concentrated on how to build a lifestyle that allows you to travel the world and get paid for it.

5 Steps to World Travel and Getting Paid to Do What you Love

3 Strategies to Help you Succeed and Travel the World

I also experimented with a more visual appeal with The Happiness Chart as a way to spread my message further and easier.

With the TBC I focused on the two main themes of the site: Building Traffic and Earning Money. You might not have realized it at the time but the 2 pillar posts are:

15 Traffic Building Tips From Some of the Internet’s Most Popular Bloggers

16 Money Making Tips From Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

The fact that I was able to attach so many popular bloggers to both of these posts lends them weight and authority. It also has the added bonus of being flattering to these bloggers so that they have an interest in seeing the posts become popular.

Today’s Homework

Write a Pillar Post

Today your homework is to create a Pillar Post that incorporates as many of the above characteristics as possible. Even if you already have a pillar post your blog can only be strengthened by adding another (or 2 or 3 if you’re feeling ambitious).

Promote the heck out it and then promote it some more at least once a month. Find a place to link to it on your homepage, either from a Favorite Posts list or through a Popular Post link if it’s one of your most popular articles (if you did your homework well it will be!).

Share Your New Pillar Post

To make it easier to keep the conversation going and for new people to join in later I have decided to use the Forums as a way for us to share our work, get advice and hopefully help promote each other even more. Each blog homework will now have its own forum thread!