You agreed to give a speech, and now you're kicking yourself for saying yes because every time you think of it your guts churn and your palms sweat.
We've all been there.
Don't worry. There are two options to get through this:
1. Call the event organizer, and back out.
Make up any excuse you can think of-- you feel a heart attack coming on, your cat puked on your keyboard, anything. Any excuse will do when you are this panicked. But don't. There are better ways to handle this.
2. Suck it up, and get it done.
This is really your only option because you are a professional, have integrity, and seriously won't die in front of the audience. I've coached thousands of speakers, and not one of them has died while giving a speech. Not a single one.
Now that you've decided to suck it up and get it done, let me share some actual advice for cultivating the confidence you need to do this without dying.
First, do some prep work. That means learning about your audience and finding out what the event organizer wants from you. Give the organizer a call. Ask who will be in attendance, what exactly the topic is, and how much the audience already knows about that topic so you can decide what they need to hear from you.
Then, create your speech outline. Please remember that an outline is not a script. No one wants to hear your read your entire speech. Also resist the urge to put all your notes on slides (for guidelines on proper slide use, click here). Include a few stories to make it memorable and relatable, and put it all in outline form.
Finally, practice that thing until the cows come home (or at least until it sounds so natural that you can do it without relying too heavily on your notes). Practice your speech out loud, while standing, and while wearing the clothes you'll wear that day. Think of it as a dress rehearsal. Do it over and over and over.
Once you've done the prep, created an outline, and practiced your speech, you'll feel more confident. It's the lack of prep and practice that causes all the anxiety. You owe it to yourself and to your audience to properly prepare and practice. You'll speak more confidently once you do.
Now go get 'er done. And if you find you need help or encouragement, click here to work together. I'm here for you.