Assuming from the fact that you are reading this, you have had fear of public speaking – in some way. With that being said, what kind of fear was it? Was it severe to the point that you were sweating or mild with a little “butterflies in your stomach”? I like to “rank” fear – from severe, mild, then moderate. Regardless what level you have experienced, I’m going to give you my tips on how to overcome fear of public speaking, and what has worked for me over the years.
Know EXACTLY what you are talking about…
I see this situation time and time again – someone walks on stage or to the front of the room and begins to speak – but the presentation is broken, scripted, and rigid. There is nothing worse than listening to someone speak to a large (or small) crowd – and completely fail at not connecting with the audience. First thing first – you much know exactly what you are speaking about. Do the research, put in the time.
By putting in the time to research and get information that is not only correct, but information that can be used when someone asks a question at the end – it will ultimately relieve stress off your mind and give you more confidence in speaking in general.
I used to have this problem. I used to “wing” a lot of my presentations and events that I publicly spoke at – until one day I was called out on it (basically). It was asked a question that I had absolutely no idea the answer to – and had I done the research, I would have known – and how do I know that? Because the person asking the question ended up answering it… Do your research so you do not have to walk in my shoes.
Practice, practice, practice…
This is just as important as knowing what you are talking about. There is nothing that will make you better at anything other than practice – public speaking is no different. I would suggest that you practice in front of a mirror – and look directly into your own eyes as you practice. This is a representation of someone elses eyes – which I would recommend you do when you are actually giving your speech (assuming the audience is standing close enough for you to make real eye contact).
To make your practice even more effective, setup a camera or your smartphone to record yourself. Look directly into the lenses and make the speech directly to it. Use your “minds eye” to imagine people being there and watching you. Do not stop recording if you mess up.
When you watch the video back – take note of the times that you messed up. Improve on those instances and make another recording/speech; continue to watch them. Do this as many times as you can before the real speech. I would even recommend doing this the morning leading to it. Over time you will see how effective practice really is…
You are selling yourself…
When you are getting in front of anyone, no matter how large, you are selling. You are never actually selling a product or an idea, you’re selling yourself.
When I have watched anyone gives a speech (assuming I have never heard of them) – my initial idea of them is strictly appearance. I don’t know them from any random person off of the street. Assuming you are looking your best (which I’m hoping you are); you need to sell yourself, not the product or the idea or even your opinions…
Start your speech off with who you are and what you have accomplished – or what you have done research-wise to prepare for this speech. Sell you – make them enjoy hearing what you are going to say after talking about you. Don’t leave this until the end – and definitely do not skip it all together.
People want to know who you are and what makes what you are saying anymore credible or important than anyone else they can run into on the street. Fulfill this need by opening up to them a bit. It will make your speech much more credible and they’ll look at you as someone who is very knowledgeable about what you are talking about.
Read, Read, Read….
It wouldn’t be right for me not to mention reading. Like I have said so many times, knowledge is power, and there is no other place on this planet (other than experience) that can give you more knowledge/power, than books.
I could go on and on about fear itself and how being afraid of speaking in front of one person or many many people is a self-confidence issue. In fact, it’s true. If you suffer from mild to serious issues with speaking in front of people, I’m sure self-confidence or self-worth is a major part of that. I am not going to go into that in this article, but I would recommend these books that can help you in not only public speaking, but self-confidence.
I would recommend reading them – or any self-help book, personally.
- Public Speaking: Talk Like Ted, How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking
You’ll be just fine…
In conclusion, you’ll be just fine if you prepare, practice, and know that you’ll do great.
All the issues and fears that you are having are in your head. It’s issues that you have with you and the experiences that you have had in life that are making you feel nervous and fearful. You link being in front of people as something to be afraid of because something in your life has happened that wasn’t good. Now you associate getting in front of people as negative.
Change that feeling today. Associate public speaking as a learning experience or a way to reach people and influence them in any way that you can.
In the end, don’t worry. You’ll be just fine… believe me… I’ve been through nearly every situation you can imagine when it comes to public speaking… I’m just fine, you’ll be too.
Until next time, take care my friend!
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