How to Public Speak Like a Boss! | Megan Grano | Skillshare

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How to Public Speak Like a Boss!

teacher avatar Megan Grano, Public Speaking Coach & Comedian

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Intro: Why Being A Good Public Speaker Matters

    • 2. How to Look Confident

    • 3. How to Sound Confident

    • 4. How to Keep People Engaged

    • 5. How to Conquer Your Nerves

    • 6. Practice Makes Perfect

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About This Class

“Give a toast at my best friend’s wedding? Sure! Easy-peasy!”
“Present a project status update to my team at work? You bet. On it!”
“Convince a few loyal clients to buy our newest product in three minutes? No problem-o!”

Except… you’re not on it, and as it turns out, nothing is easy-peasy about the presentation you’re doing TOMORROW.  Why, oh why, did you wait until the night before to throw something together? Suddenly you realize you’re not prepared. You’ve got nothing interesting, nothing of substance to say. Worse, you’re nervous.  And once the nerves creep in on us, as C-3PO says,  “we’re doomed!”

Public speaking is one of those things almost all of us will have to do at some point in our lives. But many people hope that somehow, some way, they can avoid it. That’s because for many people, public speaking is their greatest fear after death. To all those innocent souls: Relax, public speaking is a skill.  That means it is something you can study and practice. And the good news is: with just a little effort, you can easily improve.

My background:  I am a comedy writer and performer based in Los Angeles. About seven years ago, I was pulled in to help an exec with a speech. From there, my business grew. I've been helping people improve their public speaking skills ever since. I've worked with C-suite execs, salespeople, graduation speakers, and ordinary people who just want to give a killer speech at a special event. So if you are looking to make a good toast, wow your co-workers, or even just get someone to listen to your presentation for three minutes without checking his or her phone, this class is for you.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to stand when speaking
  • Where to look and for how long
  • What to do with your arms and hands
  • Vocal guidance to create a clear, strong voice
  • How to make your speech engaging
  • And perhaps most useful of all, techniques to combat nerves

This class is intended for beginner to intermediate level speakers – that would be people who have done either zero public speaking or those who have light experience. Even expert speakers might pick up some new best practices.  

Our class project should be fun no matter your skill level. Each of you are invited to present your own short speech – either using the template speech I provided, or your own. Then the class will provide constructive feedback on each others’ presentations.

I will do my best to be available to you throughout the class to respond to your questions and concerns. Enjoy the process and here’s to taking one of life’s biggest fears* head on! 

*Please note: this class will not help with your fear of death.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Megan Grano

Public Speaking Coach & Comedian


Hi, I'm Megan.
I am a comedian, writer, director and public speaking coach based in Los Angeles. When I was 14 years old, I auditioned for my high school's comedy troop. Luckily, (*or unluckily if you're my parents) I got in! From there, my love of improv and sketch comedy grew. I majored in Journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but in my free time, I founded an improv/sketch comedy group called Chapel Hill Players or CHiPs. HumbleNotHumbleBrag: CHiPs is still a super popular student group to this day.  
After college, I formally began studying comedy in Chicago. Yes, that's something you can really do, and yes, people actually take the study of comedy quite seriously! My comedy education took me about three ye... See full profile

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1. Intro: Why Being A Good Public Speaker Matters: the two biggest fears. Most people have our death in public speaking. Luckily, one of those is easy to avoid. All you got to do is find a sorcerer to make you immortal. A ah, but avoiding public speaking not so easy. Luckily, public speaking is a skill, which means you can get better at it and it's worth your time to do so. Salespeople who are good public speakers close more deals. Doctors who are good speakers are sued less. Lawyers who are good speakers win more cases unless those cases are against doctors or good speakers. The point is, whatever your profession, being a better public speaker will change your life. I don't mean you're gonna wake up and suddenly be a superhero. I can fly. But tackling this fear and improving this skill set will mean that instead of freaking out , the next time someone asks you to give a toasted a wedding or make a presentation at work, or even teach a class here on skill share, you could be like Sign me up. And who knows? Maybe your presentation or speech will be so good that other great things will come of it. I can fly metaphorically. Hi, I'm Meghan, and I've been performing improv and sketch comedy for over 20 years. Have I done my 10,000 hours of performing? Yes, Aunt, That's an improv joke. Here are some places I've worked due to my unique career path. About seven years ago, I was referred to a Fortune 500 execs who wanted a little help adding humor to her speeches . That job lead to more jobs. And before I knew it, I had a full fledged business on my hands, helping people with everything public speaking, from graduation speeches to sales pitches to appearing on national television. Don't worry, I will not try to make you into a comedian in this class, but I will take the lessons that I learned from succeeding and sometimes bombing in theaters all across the US and Canada and apply those two speaking hot tip number one. People have the same attention span in Tell Akwa Oklahoma, as they do in Kitchener, Ontario, as they do in Sacramento, California It's about a minute, which means this intro is way too long, my bad. By the end of this class, each of you will present your own short speech, and if you don't want to write one, that's cool. You can use the template that I provided. So, as we say in show business, let's do those we don't really say that instruments is. 2. How to Look Confident: when you're speaking, it's important to look confident, even if you don't feel confident. And the good news is by forcing your body toe look confident. Your brain often catches up and then you do start to feel confident. So let's look at two stances. Which speaker would you trust more? This one or this one? Ding ding, ding, ding ding. People with crossed arms and slouched posture look nervous and uncertain on trustworthy, but I've had clients give me all sorts of reasons why they stand that way. It's comfortable for me to stand like this. I'm always cold, so I like to have my arms crossed standing with my arms that my sides feels weird. Drop the excuses. If you want people to listen to you, you have got to look like you know what you're talking about. I have lots of clients who think they stand with open, confident body language. But then a few seconds into speaking, they cross their arms and look closed off. So the only way to get better at this is to tape yourself and watch it back. Uh, I know, I know. Everyone hates watching themselves on tape unless you're an actor like me, in which case you love it because you love watching yourself. We used to record all of our shows and watch them back afterwards. Are directors would make us look for nervous body language because we often talk directly to the audience, which is just like giving a speech. So our directors made us look for things like this, standing with your legs crossed, clapping while talking, ladies twirling or playing with your hair incessant movement shifting back and forth constantly. The only way you're gonna find your weird quirks is by taping yourself and watching it back . So do it. Lots of people wonder if they should gesture while speaking, and if so, how much the answer is. Yes, and whatever feels natural to you. Most people, when relaxed, do use their arms and hands while talking. If you're Italian like me, you use them a lot. Now, if you're just during so much that you're about to take flight, cool it, but otherwise do what feels natural. I've worked with clients. Stern. It's alarming. So find that middle ground. Now. There's a general rule that you should move your gaze every six seconds. I don't know how you can talk in a natural manner and be timing every six seconds in your head. So my role is this. Just look around the room and on that note, in order to be able to do that, you need to know your speech by heart. How can you make eye contact with the crowd? If you're reading it, you can't. Reading your speech is virtually asking your audience to disconnect and check their phones . This is the area where I get the most pushback from all my clients, especially the ones who speak so often that they don't have time to memorize their speeches . So this is what I tell them to dio memorized the 1st 30 seconds, the last 30 seconds and the key. Take away points. If you're reading at the beginning of your speech, you have immediately lost the audience. If you're reading at the end of your speech, that's what the audience will remember. You buy, and if you're reading your key, take away points. It's a guarantee that no one will hear them, so at least memorize those parts for homework. I'd like you to record yourself using either the speech that I provided or one that you're currently working on. Now, remember, the only thing we're looking at here is physicality. So that's all you're gonna focus on how you stand, how you're gesturing with your arms and appropriate eye contact. That's it, remember? Memorized the 1st 30 the last 30. And any key take away points. By the way, you do not need to upload this assignment. This is for you to practice getting better at home. Please don't skip this step. I promised doing it will help you get better. 3. How to Sound Confident: Some people get so nervous when public speaking that their voice trembles or think it's since those issues air actually related to nerves. I'll deal with those in a future lesson. Right now, we're just gonna focus on how to create a strong, clear voice with variety and tone. I never tried to change anyone's accent. I've worked with a lot of people who are delivering speeches in English whose native language is French, Spanish, Russian, to name a few. Maybe you're from the South. Maybe you're from the Bronx. Maybe you're Michiganders like me who sounds like she's a Minnesotan with a touch of Valley girl. The point is, we're not trying to be newscasters here. My job is to make you comprehensible. So if you speak with an accent, let's not worry about it. People might even listen to you more closely because of it. Some people have worked with talking 1,000,000 miles a minute, trying to cram everything again in five seconds. Others talk so slow you got the point, your first job in creating a strong, confident speaking voices to find your middle ground when the way you do that is by doing the exercise that I just did. Talk is fast, is you can then talk is slow. Then find your middle ground. Keep in mind if you do have a thick accent, you're gonna want to veer slightly to the slower side. Do you know how many times my jokes have bombed? Because enunciation is key. If you're a mumble, er you should be practicing daily tongue twisters. Find a few online, practice them throughout the day and everyone should practice their speech all the way through one time over, enunciating every single word. You can do that as a warm up. If you're uncertain how to pronounce certain words, ask someone who knows and then record them saying it. I do that all the time for my clients who speak English as a second language. One of the vocal issues I deal with the most is people being monotone, and I don't just mean people talking like this. Lots of ladies also talk in sweet, dulcet tones that actually sound monotone over time and lo the audience to sleep. First off, I'm going to refer you back to what I said in Lesson one about memorization. It's harder to be monotone when you have your speech memorized when you're reading. It's really easy to fall into monotone vocal patterns, but let's say you did memorize and you still sound monotone. Let's try this exercise. Try talking softly. Now try talking loudly. Now Say hello to a baby. Now root for your favorite sports player. Now tell your grandmother to stop telling you what to do. See, you do have range. So underlying your speech and pick the places where you can vary up your tone believe may. It will help keep people interested. If you, um uh, like, um, use a lot of fillers, you need to eradicate them. Use of alms. Us. Likes Oz make you sound ignorant and uncertain. The only way I know to get rid of them is by once again taping yourself in watching it back . Awareness is half the battle. The other half is practicing getting rid of them. One caveat. If you're on a panel like, for example, doing a Q and A, the audience expects more use of filler cause they know that you're speaking impromptu. But if it's during a speech, get rid of them. Smile when you're delivering the punch line of a joke. Use pauses to highlight an important part of your speech If showing emotion doesn't come naturally to you, A hand over the heart works wonders to convey feeling. I'm sorry I broke your face. I feel terrible about my last report. I love you for homework. I'd like you to record yourself again. You can use the speech I provided or the one that you're working on. Remember, this time we're focusing on pacing, enunciation, variety of tone in eliminating fillers. If you're also able to focus on physicality, that's great. But if that's too much for you, just focus on the vocal things we worked on in this class again. You do not need to upload this assignment, but I wouldn't skip it because I promise it will help you get better. 4. How to Keep People Engaged: Now that you've worked on your physicality and your voice, let's look at your speech itself in some tricks to keep people actively listening or engaged in what you're saying. The weird thing is giving a speech is not a one way conversation. Once people are watching, it's actually a two way conversation, even if they're not talking. So it's on you to keep them actively listening and interested in what your saying. So here's some ways to do that. Tell personal stories. People listen when you share personal things about yourself. It's also a lot easier to remember data when it's couched in a story reference specific people in the audience. It has a psychological effect of making other people wonder if you're gonna reference them next. And then everyone starts listening. Better ask a question of the audience and then wait for them to respond and comment on it. I've worked with clients who asked the question and then skip that response part so it might sound something like, How many of you have checked your cell phone in the last 10 minutes? Okay, well, let me keep going with my speech here. That's no good. It actually gives the audience more permission to tune out because they realize you're on autopilot. You're not actually talking with them. So wait and comment. So if it's how many people here have checked their cell phone in the last 10 minutes Oh wow , Everyone here has done that. Yeah, I need to work a little bit harder here. Maybe I should tell a personal story. Solicit applause. If you can get people clapping, it means they're listening. Cheers. Teoh use demonstrations that could be like pictures, videos, audio clips or maybe an actual live demonstration. Those always helped to get people refocused. Add some jokes now. I saved this one for last because I know not everyone likes to do them. I, of course, and very partial to humor, because I know that it keeps people engaged in listening. But I understand I've had clients say to me that they don't want the audience taking them less seriously. If you are inclined to try it. I believe humor is always a win. I'm not saying you add in 20 jokes. I'm saying maybe add three jokes to a five minute speech. People will really appreciate it, especially if they've been sitting in an audience listening to speeches all day. I always tell people to write the maid of your speech first and then go back in systematically ad engagement. If you could add it every half page, that would be awesome. Remember, people need a lot of help paying attention. So for homework, for those of you who have been practicing with this speech that I provided, you're going to go through that speech and systematically ad engagement to it. Right now, it's totally dry, and that's on purpose. Now, if you've been working on your own speech, you're gonna take that speech and again systematically go through an ad engagement and to review that would include personal stories referencing people in the audience. You could make up who's there asking questions and waiting for answers, soliciting applause, demonstrations and humor. Once you've finished doctoring up that speech, you're ready for our next class 5. How to Conquer Your Nerves: When we humans get nervous, our heart starts racing. Her breathing becomes unnatural, which changes the quality of her voice. And suddenly we're not able to listen to anything going on. It's a horrible domino effect. I've had clients hire me just to help with nervous energy, and they'll tell me things like when they're up, they're speaking, they're completely blacked out. They have no idea what's going on, guys, that is not a space that you want to live in. So in this class we're going to talk about annihilating nervous energy. So here's my three pronged approach. First, let's talk about what you can do physically to tackle your nerves. Five minutes before your presentation, find someplace where you can either jump up and down for 20 seconds or put in some headphones and dance around to your favorite song or shake it out. Just shake your arms, shake your legs, shake her whole body. The idea here is to give that nervous energy a means to escape your body. After you do your physical warm up, you're gonna spend about a minute doing a verbal warmup. That'll include lip trills doing a tongue. Twister suddenly sells seashells by the seashore and frying out your voice. That sounds like this, uh, that relaxes your vocal cords. Now let's tackle the mental component once you start getting nervous. As I said before, you stop being able to listen. So these exercises are designed to get you listening in the moment. If you could do them with a partner, that's ideal. But a lot of times people are by themselves before a speech, so I've designed them in this class that you could do them on your own. The first thing you could do is listen to a podcast, for example. Listen to 15 seconds of it, then pause it and try to repeat back every single word that you just heard. The next thing you could do is give yourself a category like cereals and try to name as many cereals as you can before giving yourself a new category like cars or countries or cities. You're just gonna keep listing as many as you can until you run out. The third thing you could do is try a word association with yourself. So if I start with Cao, Cao makes me think of horse horse makes me think of Rider Rider makes me think of kindergarten because I know someone into kindergarten named writer. You don't have to explain it to me. The point is you're gonna go fast so that it would go like cow horse rider, kindergarten school, graduation college. Gonna keep going. You're let your brain just flow one word to the next. So all three of those things will force your brain to stay in the here and now instead of jumping ahead, wondering what your speech is gonna be like. Now, what do you do if you're someplace where you can't do a warm up five minutes before your presentation? Let's say you're sitting in an audience and you've been sitting there for an hour, waiting for your turn to be called on stage to speak. I have to tactics for you. One is a deep breathing exercise that combs your heart rate. You're gonna breathe into a five count, and then this is the most important part. Hold for a five count and then release for a five count that guaranteed slows your heart rate down. The second thing you can do is actually a meditation practice, which is to look around the room. Find five things that are red. Close your eyes and then try to recite those five things in your mind, not out loud. See if you can remember where they are that forces your eyes to visually be in the moment instead of being lost in your head, thinking about how nervous you are about the speech that you're going to give in 45 minutes . Finally, I beg all my clients to stop using the word nervous. I tell people to replace it with excited, so I never let them say I'm nervous about this speech. Instead, they have to say, I'm excited about this speech, that minds that really will alter how you approach your presentation. So to sum up, remember five minutes before your speech or presentation, Do a physical vocal and mental warm up, then deep breathe. Tell yourself you're excited about it and get out there 6. Practice Makes Perfect: Okay, You've annihilated your nerves. You've got a speech that's full of engagement. You're confident about your physicality and your voice. Now what? Practice out loud at least three times. This part is essential. You cannot practice in your head and get better at public speaking. At least one of the times that you practise out loud. You should do it for somebody else. That person could be a friend, a family member or a professional coach like me. Why do we need feedback? Feedback helps us improve, and it's like a blind spot. Check for your speech. Incorporate any notes they might have for you into your presentation. And then when you've done all that, upload your speech to our project gallery so your classmates and I can see what you've been working on. You did it. You're a better public speaker already. Thank you so much for taking this class, and I hope to see you again soon.