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  • Rachel Niemczyk

Stepping Out of Comfort Zones: 5 Ways I'm Prepping for Public Speaking


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

As a writer my comfort zone is in a room, by myself, with a keyboard or pen and notepad in front of me. It's definitely not on stage, in a panel, addressing a group of students who want to learn about grant writing. And yet, that's exactly what I'll be doing later today at County College of Morris's Grant Researching & Proposal Writing Workshop. (Nervous wreck is a pretty accurate description of how I feel right now.)


In light of this, I thought I’d take a departure from this blog’s normal content to share what I've been doing to prepare for this workshop. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation I hope this helps you get through it as easily as possible!


1. Read Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED. In a serendipitous turn of events, I added this book to my to my TBR list before I was asked to participate in this panel - and I'm so glad I did! It's a fantastic read for anyone who wants to learn how to communicate more effectively - whatever medium you use. It really gave me an idea of what to do and not do on stage. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in reading you can check out my book review of it here to decide if it has the information and teaching style you’re looking for.

2. Actively work on calming down. In my experience anxiety is the quickest way to get sick before an event or blank out during it. My biggest priority leading up to this workshop has been to manage my nerves by meditating. I've been using Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Guided Meditation for this with excellent results. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough if you're looking for a new guided meditation to try.


3. Brush up on grant writing knowledge I currently have. It's impossible to remember everything I've ever learned about grant writing - I've taken, and continue to take, a lot of classes! That said, I decided to review my favorite grant writing resources for golden nuggets I've forgotten or details I need to brush up on. This way both the information and the resource I learned it from will be fresh in my mind to recommend to these students.


4. Practice speaking to real or imagined audiences. Repeating new actions expands my comfort zone to include them. Since this event is so far outside of my comfort zone I've been practicing answering questions from family, friends, and imaginary audiences about grant writing to get more comfortable in the hot seat. Hopefully these mock questions will help me feel comfortable responding to the student’s questions tonight (and give me an idea of what they may ask).


5. Avoid over-preparing. There can be too much of a good thing, and I definitely have a tendency to over-prepare for everything. From experience I know over-preparing will lead to me doubting what I do know, feeling even more anxious, and eventually struggling to recall any info when I need it. To avoid all this, I've kept myself occupied with spring cleaning projects during any lulls in my schedule. It’s something completely unrelated to the topic of grant writing which makes it a great distraction. Bonus? The result of a cleaner house always makes me feel better.


If you’ve ever had a public speaking engagement, have you tried using any of the strategies I did? Share what you did similarly or differently in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!


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Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week with another article!