Replace the end goal

I gave a pitch to a group of investors at an event once. I walked on stage sweating profusely, then spoke so fast nobody really understood what I said and even forgot to click through the slides I had prepared. Needless to say, we didn’t get any funding.

I always knew that I wasn’t born a public speaker, but since then, I tried to do some reading about it, just in case I ever need to play one again.

So I learned that the boring secret to successful public speaking is rehearsing your talks, then rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse some more—that’s assuming you have something to share that you care about to begin with.

“How can I be a great public speaker?” is the wrong question. A better one would be, “how do I set myself up to give a great talk?” And the answer to this second question is: rehearse it until you can comfortably recite it while measuring out the ingredients to make brownies (according to The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking).

Replace the end goal—Becoming a great public speaker—with a performance goal—Being able to recite my talk while doing some other cognitive load inducing task—and suddenly, you have a plan.