Sweaty hands. Not the best when you have to shake hands with your host. Flushed face. Doesn’t exactly instill a vote of confidence in your audience. This post will offer you 5 ways of thinking to banish your fear of public speaking – for good!
Public Speaking is sure death
Not for most of us, but some of us have landed in a chair with hyperventilation, on the floor with lack of oxygen (i.e. forgetting to breathe) or on a more serious note – in hospital with suspected cardiac arrest. Fear of public speaking can be debilitating and really stop us doing the things we love most – talking passionately about the subject we are most passionate about.
I know many, many people who would love nothing more than share their knowledge and experience with others, to be held back with a sincere fear of speaking or presenting in public.
Public Speaking vs Presenting
There can be a huge difference in speaking in public, and presenting in public. Presenting usually involves props, slide-shows and movement. There are many opportunities to allay the fears, and boost confidence (and hide behind things.)
Public speaking often (not always) lacks the addition of props, slides, and can usually involve a pulpit and microphone. Pulpits can hide nervousness, or accentuate it (white knuckles grabbing the edges are a sure give-away.)
5 ways to banish your fear of Public Speaking
# 1. FEAR
False Emotions Appearing Real. Often the fear of the event can be worse than the event itself. As in, the problem with the problem is worse than the problem. A simple mindset shift can drive you from dread to confidence. This is one of the reasons many take training courses on how to become a TED talk speaker and try to overcome the fear aspect of it.
# 2. They are just like you!
Most audiences want you to be successful. If you are successful, it means it has been worth their while coming, and they leave with value. No-one is trying to “catch you out”. You may be unlucky to experience a “detractor” and there are resources available for ways to deal with them!
# 3. They have MORE fear than you
Most people feel secure in a group or crowd. Their worst fear is when the presenter or speaker asks a question. Psychologically the focus shifts from the presenter to the “crowd”. You will notice a audible shift amongst the masses when this happens. Imagine you are at a comedy show, in the front row. And the comedian turns their attention to the audience. This is the main reason people will not sit in the front row (unless you are at an Apple product launch). Take solace in the knowledge that they are just as nervous as you are. Building a rapport with your audience will help dissipate this “awkwardness.”
# 4. The Bored Look
This one is close to my heart. Scenario: I am presenting, the content is relevant and serious. I am excited and passionate. My audience looks bored!! OMG! They must be bored senseless!! Oh hang on; I know what is going on here:
When sitting in an audience, most people think they are invisible. So they often adapt their ‘default face’ (the a way a person’s face naturally falls) that is usually bored or slightly frowning. Like when they are watching TV, or waiting for the toaster to pop, or the kettle to boil. They are in their own world – their own frame of reference. You have helped them get there, by speaking at them. It is completely normal. They are listening, but also slightly zoned out.
How to change this? Break state! Create a sudden silence, move suddenly, or raise your voice a few notches. If you really want to be mean, ask a loud question. Now watch them begin to shift their position – they have come back to you. Message received!
# 5. You are the Subject Matter Expert
You are the one at the top of the room, whether you move around or not, is your choice. You are departing information that your audience want or need. That simply means you know more than them. So rather than thinking everyone is out to get you, simply think it is so important that you help these people understand better. It is so important for you to share this knowledge, as it will help relieve a pain, solve an issue, or inspire them to take an action. What is more important than that?
When standing up in front of others, simply ask yourself “WIIFT” What’s in it for them? This speech is not about you, it’s about helping your audience, and they are there because they want to be helped.
Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it “to whom it may concern” ~ Nancy Duarte
How do you increase your confidence when presenting or speaking in public? Why not share with us below…
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Images: ”microphone in auditorium / Shutterstock.com“