Rituals for Public Speaking: How To Prep For A Speaking Engagement

Giving a speech can be terrifying, especially if you have to do it publicly. I started telling my story aloud after my cousin Mamie died, but she used to have me practice public speaking as a little girl.  As a child, my mother used to bring me over to Mamie’s home in Chatham, IL to spend time with her. In that time she would teach me poems. Over time I developed speaking rituals. Speaker rituals are the intentional behaviors or thoughts that you engage prior to starting your speech to ensure optimal success. Your speaker rituals will be unique to you and help you reach your desired outcomes.

I still practice my speaker rituals, because even as an experienced public speaker I still get nervous. I thought it might be helpful to share my rituals with you.

  1. Listen to Music or a Podcast. I find it very relaxing to listen to music while I’m getting dressed the morning of a presentation. If I have to give a speech sometimes I’ll listen to a podcast that is motivational to pump me up or give me some last minute speaking points to bring up to the audience.
  2. Think Positive Thoughts. I do not allow others to transfer their negativity on to me before I give a speech. This is huge! If you receive a phone call and you know it could be drama, hold off on answering it, because it could bring down your mood.
  3. Eat a hardy meal. I don’t know about you, but if I am hungry, I can’t function. I’m like that Snickers commercial… I turn into a diva. I have to eat a full meal for breakfast and lunch before I give a speech.
  4. Sit in a Quiet Place. Right before I go up to speak, one of my rituals is to go into a quiet space like a hall or even the back of the room where I get focused on what I’m about to share with the audience. I tell myself I am powerful and then I affirm that the speech I’ll give will be strong and impactful.
  5. Carry a Notebook. I carry a notebook up to the podium with me, just in case I need to pause for a moment and write myself a note. Sure, it may seem strange to some to stop speaking and just start writing in your notebook. If I tell the audience what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, they don’t seem to mind. In fact, many times they start writing in their notebooks, too. My notebook is also where I carry my outline for my speech so it helps me not go off on a tangent. It’s like a safety blanket. It’s my parachute that helps me “land” all of my speaking points safely.

Do you have any speaker rituals of your own? Share them in the comments. If you haven’t read my recent post I’m Ready to Speak, be sure to check that out. Also, if you are looking to speak to colleges, schedule a FREE consultation with me, because that’s my specialty area! I have over 10+ years of experience hosting college events and bringing in public speakers. You can schedule your consultation at mamietillmobley.com/chat.

If you don’t know where to start, but know that you want to be a speaker, download my I’m Ready To Speak Workbook.


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