Podcast Playlist

Ted Talks curator shares advice for public speaking

Chris Anderson, a recently Podcast Playlist guest curator, has some advice for getting over your public speaking nerves.
Canada's Science Minister Kirsty Duncan used her TED talk to advocate for more freedom for scientists. (TED Conference/Flickr)

Public speaking is a very common fear. It's something many of us try to avoid as much as we can, but sometimes that just isn't possible.

At some point, we will have to stand in front of a group and talk.

For those who don't actively avoid public speaking, TED Talks provide a prestigious platform. There are tens of thousands of TED and TEDx talks available online on a huge range of topics and by some very well-known people.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, speaks onstage at the 2018 TED conference with lead curator Chris Anderson. (Jason Redmond/TED)

"People assume giving a talk means you just write something down and you pluck up the courage and you go on stage...and hope that you don't shame yourself in front of hundreds of people," said Chris Anderson, head of TED. Anderson recently guest curated an episode of Podcast Playlist.

To help those who do experience a little glossophobia, Anderson gave us some of his tips for getting over your nerves.

1. Practice

"[Fear] is there to alert you, that action is needed," said Anderson. "And the action needed in speaking is just to get ready. To prepare"

He says, the best talks don't just involve writing something down and "plucking up the courage". A good talk takes a lot of practice. As much as you can and in any way you can.

"You can practice in your bedroom, practice in front of two friends, and you absolutely should if it's a talk that matters. "

2. It's not for you

Fear of public speaking is really a fear that you will embarrass yourself. "That's obviously why the fear is there," said Anderson. "It's a big social moment and we are social creatures."   

 So the best way to combat that is to stop focusing on yourself.  

"You're doing this... for the idea and for the audience. It's not about you, it's about them." So focusing on your audience should relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself.

3. Be authentic

Anderson's final piece of advice continues the theme of getting out of your own way. "What matters is that you have something worth saying and that you can get it out there in a way that's authentic to you.

"There's no harm in stopping, getting a glass of water, looking at your notes, taking a breath. All these things don't matter."