Or, how not to freak out when talking in front of groups of parents…
Speaking in front of people is one of the most common concerns I hear from people about stepping up to be a PTO leader.
They want to give more of their time to make a bigger impact as a leader, but they’re afraid of talking in public.
The thought of standing in front of a group of parents stops them dead in their tracks.
But it’s easier than you think to become a stronger public speaker!
This is one of those life skills you really need to know, just like folding a fitted sheet.
So give this post a read!
Start with a Plan
Before you start talking, think about what you want to say and why.
If you keep this in mind, it’ll be less overwhelming when it comes times to stand up and talk in front of people!
The worst public speakers are the ones who don’t come prepared with a point and babble on like they have diarrhea of the mouth.
So sorry for that visual, but we’ve all had to ensure a crappy speaker like that.
Ok, that was really unintentional, but it’s funny and on point, so that pun is staying!
Write out an outline of what you’ll say.
Think about why you’re saying it as you draft the outline.
Knowing what you’ll say will give you confidence to speak more strongly.
You won’t be fumbling for words or forgetting important information.
Bring the outline with you to your speaking event and refer to it as needed!
If it makes you more comfortable, feel free to take the Just the Facts, Ma’am approach.
State the facts of Who, What, Where and Why, if applicable.
Give a brief summary of the basics and people will ask for clarification if they need it.
Before your speaking event, practice lots until you feel more at ease!
The more you literally talk it out, the better it’ll be when it comes for the real deal.
Talk to your dog or to yourself.
It doesn’t matter.
Practicing also comes with the added benefit of the fact that you’ll probably use less filler works like “uh” and “so”, etc.
Less filler words makes it easier to follow what you’re saying as an audience member.
And practice gives you the confidence to know what you’ll be saying without the need for them.
Another way to practice is to seek out opportunities to talk publicly, by join a group like Toastmasters.
In these groups, you’ll get lots of constructive feedback about how to improve with others seeking to do the same thing!
It’s Not About You
Another reason people get intimidated about speaking is because they make the mistake of thinking that all the focus will be on them.
But that’s not the case!
In reality, parents are listening to you to get details on how to help at Carnival or what Committee Chair openings are available.
They’re focused on the information you’re providing, not on you personally.
In the big picture, know that you’re not expected to give speech on par with a TED talk. You’re simply giving information about the PTO.
You’re not seeking people to join you in a radical movement, so loosen up a bit about the whole process!
Dress for Success
I’m all about dressing comfortably all the time, but especially when I have to get up in front of a large group, I make sure to wear something I feel confident in.
I also do myself up pretty, with make up and nice accessories to boot.
I personally feel more confident looking pulled together like that.
I also make sure to wear something that is forgiving in case I get sweaty and nervous. No body con shirts for me!
When you feel good, you’ll be able to let your passion shine!
Right Before You Talk
Before you leave for your talk, make sure to laugh.
Legit, pull up a funny or cute video on your phone and give it a watch.
Laughing is a good way to feel more relaxed and at ease.
That’ll translate into you feeling more comfortable and giving a better talk!
Don’t be afraid to do some self care before and after to make for a better experience!
Rub a little lavendar essential oil on your chest so you can smell it while talking. It’s oh so relaxing and such a comforting smell!
And make sure to take along some water do you don’t get dry mouth and get tongue tied.
Summing it all Up
I’m going to wrap this all up with a quick step by step outline of how not to freak out when talking in front of groups of parents:
- Have a plan – Write out an outline of what you’ll say and think about why you’re saying it. Knowing what you’ll say will give you confidence to speak more strongly. Bring the outline with you and refer to it as needed!
- Practice – Before your speaking event, practice lots! The more you literally talk it out, the better it’ll be when it comes for the real deal. Talk to your dog, a plant or yourself. Just practice.
- Dress for success – Wear comfortable clothes that won’t show your sweat! Do yourself up cute so you’ll be fully confident.
- Relax – Know that the people you’re talking to aren’t judging every little thing you’re saying. They’re focused on getting the information you’re sharing. Just talk normally and you’ll be fine!