Episode 35 | How to Stay Calm(er) When You’re Giving a Presentation with Megan Hamilton

Planning to do any public speaking in 2022? 

In this episode, I interview public speaking expert Megan Hamilton, who shares an easy strategy you can use to stay calm before and during a presentation.

Fear of public speaking is incredibly common, and at the same time, presenting is one of the most effective ways of connecting with people in your community.

If you're hoping to do a class for your community, present at a conference, or teach a workshop this year, I highly recommend listening to this episode.

Teaching and presenting can be powerful ways to support your community, meet new people, and grow your practice.

In order for this to work, you need a few things to happen:

  1. You need to actually give the presentation or teach the class 😱
  2. You need to teach/share/present about something your people care about, and 
  3. You need to connect with people while you're presenting/teaching/sharing (i.e. present effectively).

If these three things are in place, you'll find that you are making a difference and helping more and more people.

Today, we're focusing on step 3: how you can present effectively.

Megan shares some helpful thoughts on how we can prepare for presentations beyond focusing exclusively on the content.

You can have excellent content, be overprepared, and still stumble when it comes to speaking in front of others.

If you listen to this episode, Megan shares one of her top tips for staying calm as you prepare for and present your material.

For even more help, join us for a live, online workshop with Megan at the end of January ❤️Details below.  

Being a powerful presenter is a learned skill. Feeling petrified or know that you're not naturally good at speaking publicly? I promise, you will get better with practice, particularly when you have an instruction manual like the one Megan will provide during our workshop.

Resources


Speaking with Power

Date: Jan 31, 2022 from 5-6 pm ET

Cost: Pay from the Heart $5-25

In this online workshop, Megan will guide us through her public speaking essentials.


About Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton is a speaking, visibility and confidence coach for women and nonbinary people. She used her classical theatre training and 25+ years of performance to build a step by step speaking system that not only allows you to deliver incredible speeches, but also provides you with a framework to have difficult conversations, build your confidence and increase your visibility. She can be found online at www.ubuskills.com.


Transcript of How to Stay Calm(er) When You're Giving a Presentation

episode with Megan Hamilton

Episode 35 | How to Stay Calm(er) When You're Giving a Presentation with Megan Hamilton - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to "In the clinic with Camille". My name is Camille Freeman. I am a registered herbalist and licensed nutritionist. And in this podcast, I share little tips and tidbits that may be helpful for other practitioners.

Today, I'm really excited to have a guest here with me. Megan Hamilton is going to help us understand how to give better conference presentations or any kind of presentations. Really as practitioners, many of us have a lot of accumulated wisdom, thoughts to share things that may help serve our community in some way. And a lot of us don't have any training in how to present that material. Public speaking is scary for folks. It is something that many of us shy away from. And if we do want to give a presentation, do a talk, do a webinar, anything along those lines, a lot of times we spend most of our time focusing on the content and then we get there and we sort of grit through the actual presentation piece. So Megan is a public speaking expert and she is here to share some tips with us for how to be better presenters. So I can't wait to dive in.

Well, Hi, everybody. Welcome back. Today, I have a guest with me. Megan Hamilton is here. Megan is a speaking disability and confidence coach for women and non binary people. She has used her classical theater training and 25 plus years of performance to build a step by step speaking system that not only allows you to deliver incredible speeches, but also provides you with a framework to have difficult conversations, build your confidence, and increase your visibility. She uses shadow work to help you tune into your intuition and discover the root of what contributes to fear. She's the host of the Ubu Pod and can be found online at www.ubuskills.com. Megan is also a musician and has recorded five albums of original music and has toured across Canada from Newfoundland to BC, as well as into the US. So, Megan, welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

Hi, Camille. I'm so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Yeah. Any time. One of the reasons that I invited Meghan to come and speak to us today is because she has so much experience training people who are getting ready to give presentations. So, Megan, could you share a little bit about what kind of experience you do have training people and teaching them how to be better speakers?

Sure. So I used to work at the University, and while I was there, I asked how our students who are getting ready to do moot competitions, which is where I was at a law school. So the students would get practice being lawyers in these moot competitions. They would pretend to be arguing certain cases. And I said, well, who is teaching them how to present the information? And nobody was. So I started thinking about my theater training and all of the things that I've learned while being on stages. And I asked them, I'd love to train everybody, what do you think? And they went for it. So I spent about seven or eight years every year training the students for their moot competitions. And that's how this four part training started to synergize and how it started to meld into what it is today. And then I'm also the speaker adviser for the Queen's TEDx. So I've been working with the TEDx speakers and also training the students who are part of the speakers program on how to train other people. And then aside from that, I've been giving workshops and doing one on one work for about five years now with my Business Ubu skills.

So I've worked with lots of different people who are getting ready to give presentations or to compete or to just deliver work in meetings, because all of our public speaking fears tend to come from the same place, which is just a really big fear of getting up in front of people and saying something. Yes. And so that was one of the things that was really cool as well was noticing. Okay, well, I'm using the same skills here, helping this person figure out how to present their dissertation as I am over here helping this person figure out how to give the quarterly numbers at the work meeting where they typically would feel absolutely frightened. And it all tends to meld together. It's the same skills that we use for all of these different things.

I love it. So what is one of the most common things that you see going wrong or something that you think people should know about, especially if they are new to presenting? Could you share with us just a small tidbit?

Absolutely. So one of the things I see everywhere, when you search public speaking, all of the tips and tricks are about how to be engaging, how to write a great presentation or a great speech, what to do with your PowerPoint notes and all of that, and all of that is really, really important. But what I see is somebody coming very prepared with the content but not having prepared themselves for what they are about to embark on. So if you are somebody who is feeling nervous or has typically felt nervous delivering in front of people, you may think to yourself, well, I just have to be really prepared, and then I'll be okay. But actually, your brain thinks that you're going into a dangerous situation, and it starts to send you the cortisol and adrenaline that freeze your body or create all kinds of different stress responses. So you can have excessive sweating, you can have shaking, your voice can shake you actually lose your ability to access certain parts of your brain. We've all experienced this in different situations, but this will happen to us if we don't prepare ahead of time, physically and mentally for what we're about to do.

You can have all of your research. You can have such a terrific speech. And then if you get super duper nervous and you get up in front of people, you just can't access that stuff in your brain. It's physically impossible. And so the thing to do is first to begin with your body. And so I teach how to carry your body using the principles of Alexander technique, which is one of the things we're going to talk about in the workshop that you're presenting with me coming up. And so that is basically how to physically take up space. And one of the cool things about that is once you feel yourself moving into that zone of carrying your body, you actually feel a little bit of that power that's coming from physically carrying space, instead of what we can often do is round our shoulders or sort of like, use our arms, too. It's almost like we're protecting our internal organs. Right. We go into, like, a quasi fetal position when we're feeling nervous. So this is a way of opening that up. But one of the things that I think is the most important is to practice controlled breathing ahead of getting up.

So we often talk about deep breathing as a great way of calming down. And certainly it is. But when you practice controlled breathing, which is essentially when you decide when you're going to breathe in and breathe out, that sends a signal to your brain that you're not in danger. And so your brain is like, okay, cool. I'm going to stop pumping you with the hormones I thought you needed to get out of this situation, which are actually completely unhelpful. Right. And then it allows you to think into being yourself more without all of this extra. I think of it like a buzzing frenzy. Right. That kind of stress and anxiety that you feel coming over you when you've got to do something really difficult. This is a way of managing it, and it doesn't take it away completely when you practice controlled breathing. And I'll give an example of how to do that, but what it does is it gets you to a better baseline so that you are able to deliver this amazing, well researched, well written presentation that you've got and represent yourself well instead of feeling like you can't even remember how it went because you were so stressed out and that part of your brain wasn't working.

And so, like I said, controlled breathing is just when you decide to breathe in. And when you decide to breathe out, instead of letting your sort of autopilot brain manage your breath, what I like to teach is to breathe in for three, hold for three and release for six. Just a little side note about holding your breath. Some breath experts say that when you hold your breath, for those of us who have experienced lots of trauma, that can trigger a trauma response, so if you find while you're holding your breath that you start to feel more nervous or more upset, that's not going to work for you. So what you want to do in that case is just breathe in for three and then release for six. We want to breathe out for longer than we breathed in because that stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest. And that's the kind of state we want to be in, able to access those parts of our brain that work with helping us figure out the right word to say in a given moment. If we're asked a question and not just completely forgetting everything.

I have a client who has forgotten her name on stage before because she was so flooded with stress. These are things that can actually happen. And so when you walk into something, having worked on your physicality, having opened up your body, and having practiced controlled breathing, you're going to be in such a different space getting ready to give you a presentation than if you had just ruminated on things for the 60 minutes ahead of time and just come into it feeling really stressed out and anxious already.

Amazing. So do you recommend practicing for a certain amount of time, or is there a good time? If you know your presentation is happening at 08:00 A.m., how would you structure the controlled breathing around?

That's a really good question, and thank you for asking. I always recommend that as soon as you know you've got a presentation coming, start practicing controlled breathing two or three minutes a day, twice a day, if you can hack it right. Two or three minutes in the morning, two or three minutes in the evening. Because what you're doing is conditioning your body to understand what you're doing. When you start to practice controlled breathing in a stressful situation. So our body recognizes it's like muscle memory. It's like, oh, okay, I know what's going on here. I'm okay. And then try to we don't always have full control over where we're going to be ahead of getting into the situation where we're presenting. And especially if we're in a conference situation, you might be obligated to watch somebody else's talk. But the great thing about controlled breathing is you can actually do it anywhere. So I have this animated GIF on my website. It's in the Tools section at ubuskills.com, and you can pull that on your phone, and then you can go to a bathroom stall. Just watch it, follow the instructions. It just tells you when to breathe in, when to hold, and when to breathe out.

You do that for two minutes before you're supposed to go on. You're getting yourself into a really more relaxed state than you would have otherwise. And it also helps to mentally prepare you. So I had a job interview a few years ago at a College where I wanted to work. And while I was sitting in the waiting room. This is, of course, before coronavirus. Well, actually, I guess it was happening at this time, but it just wasn't as prominent. But while I was waiting in the waiting room, I had my phone out and I was just practicing controlled breathing. Everybody else just thought I was reading email or whatever. But here I was actually doing this sort of really important work for me to get myself into the most ready position that I could be in. So you can do it anywhere. And even if you're sitting in the audience watching the person ahead of you, you can even practice it there. Chances are we're not going to be completely paying attention to the person ahead of us anyway, because we're going to be focusing on what we have to do next. And so just take that time.

You can tap it out on your leg like breathe in for three, hold for three, breathe out for six. Sometimes it helps to have an external source, sort of like telling you what to do. And that's where that tapping can come in, but you can just stay in your brain. Breathe in for three, hold for three, release for six. And you're giving yourself the opportunity to show up really grounded and really present, as opposed to showing up feeling really stressed and then having to fight against that to deliver the goods.

I love that. So the idea is to practice daily when you know your presentation is coming up, and then to really try to work this in as close to the presentation, start as you can in advance. Okay.

And then there's a fourth part to my training, which is called text mapping. And again, we'll get into detail about this at the workshop, but there's a way of baking controlled breathing into your presentation so that when if things start to go off the rails a little bit, you've got something already built in to help you practice controlled breathing as you're giving your presentation. And that piece can be really, really helpful as well.

I love that. Well, speaking of the workshop that's coming up, I just wanted to circle back to that because people may not already know about it. So if you don't and you're listening, Megan is going to come and do a full 1 hour workshop for us on January 31, which is a Monday at 05:00 P.m.. Eastern time. And we are going to go into her four part system for public speaking. Megan, do you want to just share a little teeny bit about what's involved and what we're going to be learning in the workshop?

Sure. So you will get a central public speaking notes workbook, and that gives a lot of detail into the four parts as well, and a bunch of tips and tricks and some examples and things that you can practice with. But what we're going to do is we're going to begin by learning how to take up space. So using the principles of Alexander technique, from there, we're going to practice controlled breathing and talk about why it's important. From there, we move into the voice. That's something I haven't even touched on today is how to use your voice in a supportive way so that it is powerful and also that you're protecting it. And then finally, all of those things come together using something called text mapping, which is how you Mark up your speech ahead of time so that you can really connect with your audience in the moment as you're delivering it. And that's going to be true for virtual and in person. And there's a couple of different ways of approaching each of them. But all of these tools can be used in all kinds of different scenarios. It doesn't just have to be speaking at a conference.

This could be giving a work presentation. This could be delivering your own workshop. And it also works in interpersonal conflict as well. A lot of these tools can be used in situations where you're maybe fighting with your spouse, I don't know.

Yes. And one of the reasons that I wanted to invite you here is because I work with a lot of clinicians who are working on building their practices, and that often involves giving workshops to the public, giving people a little sample of what you do. A lot of people speak at conferences, do virtual webinars and workshops. So for anybody who has one of those coming up, I really encourage you to come to the workshop with Megan on the 31st. And we do have a pay from the heart option. We wanted to make it as accessible as we could. So the scale of anywhere from five to $25 for this workshop, it's going to be an incredible value, and we will have a recording. So if you can't make it live, you can always sign up and we'll send you the recording once it's over. Megan, is there anything else that you wanted to add before we wrap up here?

I don't think so. I think that the main takeaway here is to remember that when we're talking about preparation, it's more than just the content that you're going to be delivering. If it is something that's difficult for you, then learning how to, you know. And it's not difficult. This training is not difficult at all. But knowing what to do when you start to feel really nervous is massively helpful so that you can really get out there and share your good work.

Yep. I love it. This is a good life skill in general.

It ends up working in a lot of different places.

Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming here, Megan, to be with us. As a reminder, Megan is at www. Ubuskills.com, and she does offer trainings and workshops. So if you want to come to our 1-hour training amazing. But you can also get a lot of more in depth training and private work with Megan on the website so check that out if you get a chance and hopefully we'll see some of you on January 31 at 05:00 p.m.. Eastern time.

Thanks Camille. Thank you, bye.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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