Did you know public speaking is the number one fear in the world? The second greatest fear is death! I know why public speaking is ranked as the #1 fear for people because most people have convinced themselves they would die if they ever had to speak to an audience.
If you have the fear of public speaking, you are not alone. You must first recognize what “fear” is. Fear is the anticipation of pain and failure. It can be real or imagined. Let’s look at the 7-things you need to know to overcome your fear of public speaking.
1. Face Your Fear
In a nutshell, it is not knowing what will happen when you are in front of people, giving your speech or presentation. Your fear is not that you don’t know your topic. It is that you don’t know what will happen when you step up to the podium or table.
The fear of being judged, making a mistake, not measuring up, getting hurt either mentally or physically can get in the way of a good performance (speech, seminar, sales presentation, etc). Remember that people in the audience really want you to succeed. Nobody is standing there hoping you’ll be boring or bad. If you are coming from an authentic place, and you cover the material with clarity, you’ve won 3/4 of your inner battle with fear.
2. Be Prepared
Make sure you know the material that you’re going to cover. Make a detailed outline, and break it into basic points to memorize. Include sub-points and the title of speech. Here is an idea to help you build a speech that flows well:
- Associate each part of the outline into a “room” in your house. Your first point is your entry room. The second point is your hallway/kitchen/living room (as you step through your house in your imagination), etc.
- Associate each sub point with pictures on the wall. Have the pictures demonstrate something that will help you remember your point. The more ridiculous, the better the speech will stick (as long as you don’t get distracted).
- The morning of the presentation, walk through “the house” in your mind to “decode” the memorization technique.
Find business organizations, networks and clubs in your area (such as Toastmasters) that can afford you the opportunity to practice. Remember to choose topics that you are already an expert on. Speaking on a topic that you are not familiar with will increase your stress, and impede on your performance. Record your presentation and then review it to see where you can improve. Have others review and give feedback on what they saw. Have someone you know to be an effective speaker sit in on a live presentation you’ll be presenting and ask for their feedback.
4. Take Deep Breathes
Practicing a breathing exercise before you go on will relax your body and mind. Here’s one that you can do anywhere, even within seconds of giving your presentation.
- Stand still and feel the ground beneath your feet. Close your eyes and imagine yourself suspended from the ceiling by a thin thread. Just listen to your breathing and tell yourself there is no rush. Slow your breathing allows you to start your presentation in a totally relaxed and confident manner.
Being relaxed allow you to let go of all the stress and tension in your body. Before you speak give some of these techniques a try:
- Imagine you’re floating on a cloud
- Watch something funny on YouTube. Laughing is a great stress releaser
- Sit in a quiet room while you listen to soft music playing in the background
Knowing how to relax allows you to de-stress your body and mind. Being relaxed and at ease allows your audience to see your confidence.
6. People Do Not See Your Nervousness
When you’re about to start speaking no one knows you’re nervous. Your stomach could be in knots and you feel like you’re going to be sick, but you really aren’t showing it to your audience. Sometimes, when speaking to an audience, you think that people may notice you’re nervous. This makes you even more nervous. There are only a few subtle cues that show a person is nervous and they’re so small, that the ordinary person wouldn’t put more than 1 second into them. Don’t worry so much. People will admire you for your ability to speak before others.
- Stand tall, with shoulders back and chest out. Smile. Even though you don’t feel happy or confident, do it anyway. You will look confident and your body will fool your brain into thinking it is confident. I like coaching my clients to say these words, Act Enthusiastic and You’ll Be Enthusiastic!
7. Seek Professional Training or Coaching
If you haven’t yet taken a professional development course on public speaking, consider finding a public speaking training course appropriate for your needs. Learning the art of public is a must-have-skill for any business owner, executive, manager, salesperson or individual that is ready to address fear of public speaking.
P.S. On October 21, I will be conducting my workshop,
Step Up, Speak Up, Present with Impact!