Mountain Biking Taught me Public Speaking Tips

My blog today is all about my mountain biking experiences and what public speaking tips and facts about life, it’s taught me.  If you’ve any public speaking tips that you’d like to contribute, then please leave a comment or tweet me.

public speaking tips

I like to think that I look this stylish whilst biking!

Prior to Public Speaking

About 8 weeks ago, I set myself a challenge of getting good at public speaking. The thought made me drop a dress size. I’ve never really publicly spoken – do questions count?

Even then my voice goes tiny, my entire body shakes and I forget to breath.  I’m not too sure where I got such a negative view about it.  Until now, it had been put in my do-not-disturb box and I’d gladly left it there.

Photo by Ramona.Forcella

The thing about phobias is that they stop you from progressing. I had turned down so many opportunities and as a business woman, it’s not a productive mindset to have. Then I was invited to speak later on this year at an event that would be too good to turn down.

In my research to help me learn some public speaking tips, I found a blog post (one that I can’t seem to locate) that gave me ground breaking news. It said to find something nerve wracking, do it and then watch your perspective change.

Good advice?

I’m a lover of many things so it was a challenge to find something I wasn’t so fussed on, never mind phobic about.

At the time I had just got back on a bike. I wasn’t exactly phobic about it,just nervous because I had not been on one for 12 years;then mountain biking was suggested to me.

Public speaking tips

I still had hair by the end of my talks…

Photo by -Xv

I initially learnt two things whilst biking:

a)      It gave me something else to think about besides speaking.

b)      When I did conquer those huge hills, it  proved my negative inner voice otherwise.

In just 8 weeks with the help from a mentor:

  • I Rode 16 miles in one go
  • I can ride with one hand (albeit shakily)
  • Completed some heart pounding mountain trails
  • Given 3 networking pitches
  • Given 2x 20 minute talks

5 Top Public Speaking Tips that Mountain Biking Taught me


It pays to have the right tools

After a 16 mile ride without padded shorts  it was safe to say I didn’t sit down for a few days,  it made me question whether I wanted to do it again.

After not practicing my first ever pitch and embarrassing myself, it was also safe to say that I never wanted to do it again.

So I went out and got some padded shorts and had a few lessons with a friend, who’s a more experienced rider than me.

I also made it my mission to go to events so that I could pick up on public speaking tips.   I found YouTube a great resource where I watched quite a few Tedx Talks and loved this video.

Public speaking tip 1 : find the tools that help make your life easier and use them.

You end up where you look

When I’d progressed from road cycling to mountain biking, I encountered these things called ‘burms’.  I can describe them only as slopes or even ledges.  I fell off a few of them because I was concerned that I’d go over the top!

When it came to a 1 minute pitch, I talked too fast because I thought that my audience would be bored.

I soon realised that in biking and life in general  you end up where you look. So instead of concentrating on the edges of those burms, I imagined my bike going around them smoothly and I kept my eyes on the road ahead.

The same can be said for my talks -by my third one I’d imagined that everyone was listening to me intently.

It really did work because I successfully rode the burms and  I had quite a few people come and talk to me after my pitch.

Public speaking tip 2 : imagine your best outcome.

Self talk is the key

Once I’d moved onto more advanced trails I then encountered bigger hills.  The first time I saw one, my eyes bulged and my muscles instantly told me no.  I spent most of the way telling myself how strenuous it was.

The same can be said when I first embarked upon my 30 second pitches. They felt like huge hills, and my brain told me no because I was nervous.

I soon realised that although in reality they were both a challenge to my brain and body,  no one got anywhere fast by stating the obvious!

I decided to listen to the advice from a speaker who gave me one very valuable public speaking tip. He said to chant this to myself: “I’m looking forward to doing this because it’s fun.”

Public speaking tip 3 : language is a command so tell yourself nice things.

It’s worth the uphill purely for the views.

The views from the top are amazing and you feel like you’re on top of the world.  Your eyes revert back to where you started, it’s a tiny dot and you think “I just did that!”

After my first talk, I felt like the same and  I smiled for a long time after. I literally knew what it was like to get up a mountain and actually speaking didn’t even compare.

That said, I still felt that I had come such a long way.  The views of my more confident self are satisfying and of course the journey is important but, the destination is very rewarding too.

Public speaking tip 4 : reward yourself for every mile stone even if it’s pointing out what you did.

The more you do it the easier it gets

The last tail that I did, I had better balance (practice makes perfect) so I eased off of my breaks and let my bike carry me that bit faster. I stayed in one piece.

By my second talk,  I could use my prior experience to help me deliver it in a  well paced and informative way. I stayed in one piece.

The trick to my new found confidence in both aspects was to bike and talk often, so that I could refine my skill and that’s a continual process!

The thing about skills is that we’re not born with them and we have to learn. Whether that be walking, holding a spoon, using a computer or speaking in public and the list goes on.

But you know that right?

Public speaking tip 5 :

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

 (click to tweet)

I would love to know about any experiences that you’ve embraced. I also welcome any public speaking tips in the comments below

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7 Responses to Mountain Biking Taught me Public Speaking Tips

  1. Bruno Buergi May 29, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Sometimes we have to go different way than we first thought about. It’s great when you have found a way that works for you to get the confidence you need.

  2. Rachael Phillips May 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Brilliant!! It’s great how the simplest of things can bring inspiration x

    • Chelsea Louise Haden May 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      I know right? Thanks for stopping by Rachael, I’ve put you on my ‘must read’ list. x

  3. Leanne Chesser May 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Congratulations on your public speaking! I can relate to this: “Even then my voice goes tiny, my entire body shakes and I forget to breath.” Your tips are awesome. I love it when life experiences give insight for other things.

    • Chelsea Louise Haden May 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you Leanne! Yes and it just goes to show you that lessons pop up in unexpected places. Lets keep our eyes open! 🙂

  4. Mark July 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Hi Chelsea!

    I found your blog while commenting on Andy Lockharts. I saw your headline and knew I had to
    read your blog post.

    All five points you shared were extremely good. Who would have thought you could learn so many insights
    about effective public speaking, simply by becoming an active mountain biker.

    I particularly like your advice about being sure to get or have the right tools going in! That definitely helps!

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Chelsea Louise Haden July 6, 2014 at 9:49 am #

      Hi Mark – many thanks for stopping by.

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I definitely think having the right tools really does make it a lot easier for you.

      I find myself learning lots from totally unrelated things nowadays – it’s fun.

      You’re very welcome,
      See you soon.

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