Doyle regularly speaks on stage but has also spoken about the anxiety she feels about public speaking. As Covid-19 hit the USA in March 2020 she was about to embark on a book tour to promote her latest book Untamed.
With the pandemic lockdowns she was only able to do a couple of her planned events, one of which was in New York, which podcast host Hempel attended.
At around 14:30 in the episode they discuss speaking on stage:
“Doyle: I have massive anxiety, so one of the ways that I control my anxiety, or pretend to control my anxiety, is that I like to appear on stage like I’m just talking. Like I’m just thinking of things, off the top of my head –
Hempel: That’s totally how I read it when I saw you.
Doyle: Right. I memorise every single word that I say for 40 minutes.
Hempel: Are you kidding?
Doyle: No. Jessi, every single word that I said on stage in New York is on a document that is, whatever, 6000 words long. I record it over and over again into my phone so that I can, so I love how the cadence of every single sentence sounds. So I probably record it, I don’t know, 20 times. Then I spend the next month listening to it over, in sections. I listen to it so many times that it burns like neural pathways in my mind and I can’t forget it. This is the process that I go through to give, not for every speech but like my book tour speech, that I’m like okay, these people that I love are taking time out of their day, their busy busy lives, to come sit and I want to do the best possible thing that I can do for them.”
It’s wonderful that Doyle shared this process – not least because it’s one of her personal ways to combat her anxiety around public speaking. I love this process because it’s not just about practicing your speech until you have it memorised, it’s about listening to yourself speak.
I am not a fan of the sound of my own voice – I know it’s how other people hear me, but in my head my true voice is a lot more melodious than the version I hear on video or audio recordings. This makes me shy away from listening to myself unless I absolutely have to.
What Doyle is doing here is not only about performing and memorising, it’s about being comfortable with who you are on stage – the version of yourself that other people see and hear. It’s about conquering anxiety with acceptance.
When I’m preparing a speech I rarely write it out word for word, I prefer to plan bullet points and talk around my subject – I like the feeling of being a little spontaneous. But if you’re someone who likes to plan every word in advance, Doyle’s approach could be a perfect practice routine for you.
So give it a go – practice your speech by listening to it.
Image credit – Matt Botsford at Unsplash