Big talk coming up? Try these tips to get comfortable.

What do you do to feel comfortable before a big talk?

In August I had my largest audience ever: 1,800 at the Convocation for the College of Arts and Sciences at my alma mater, Miami University.

While I feel at home on campus, I did the things I coach my speakers to do to feel super comfortable on stage:

  • arrive earlier than they suggest, walk the hall, get to know tech folks and do an early sound check
  • bring a hard drive to transfer any footage so you won’t regret it later that you didn’t
  • work the crowd and make conversation with the audience, it helps to connect you with them
  • drink extra water before taking the stage to avoid dry mouth
  • practice enough you don’t need notes (even if you take them on stage with you)
  • make sure to incorporate some comments that reflect the experiences the audience had that day or the day before – warms them up to listen to the rest
  • send your own intro to the host so they don’t overshadow your messages with irrelevant parts of your past
  • have the main intention to have fun!

And I did!

Ruth Milligan: Miami University Keynote

Thanks, Miami for inviting me to be a part of  the Convocation.  And to everyone else, I invite you to watch the video below. What advice would you add for new college freshman?


Ruth Milligan Articulation Executive Communication CoachRuth Milligan is the Founder, Managing Director and an Executive Coach and Trainer with Articulation. She is perhaps best known as one of the original curators for any TEDx event (the license program for TED). Since 2009, Ruth has selected and coached over 200 speakers who have taken the TEDxColumbus stage. She is often tapped as an expert in the TED-style of speaking and has authored a class on how to be a TEDx speaker coach. Connect with Ruth.