Estimated reading time: 11 minute(s)
Originally published 1.23.09
Written by Jesse Muhammad
The moment has arrived.
You are petrified.
Your palms are sweaty.
Your knees are trembling.
You can’t seem to remember the speech.
You’re thinking about all of the mistakes you can make.
You’re about to freeze like a deer in headlights.
You say to yourself “I can’t do this”…..and then.
STOP! Let’s go no further down that line because if you have a fear of public speaking you may be getting nervous just from reading the opening words of this blog. (smile)
That’s not my purpose. This is about how to master those fears you have that are holding you back from becoming the phenomenal speaker you have the potential to be. But fear restricts and it will never allow you to be your true self so it must be conquered or you will continue to succumb to its power.
What is fear? According to Webster it is defined as ” a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid”.
Did you read that?….whether real or imagined! So that means some of us formulate so many worst case scenarios up in our minds that we scare ourselves to death before even attempting to move out on something. Speaking is no different.
But you are not alone. Studies have shown that a lot of people rate their fear of public speaking as more severe than the fear of death.
Here are a few tips to start breaking down your fear barriers:
1. Stop imagining yourself failing: Imagery is powerful, so if you continuously see yourself as a poor speaker in your mind then of course it will manifest itself in your performance. Visualize yourself performing with perfection, poise and precision. See yourself in the room, the people are looking at you, they’re hanging on your every word as you’re speaking, and you are delivering strong. Do you see it? Good.
2. Be prepared: There are some people who can speak without notes for days but when you’re trying to get your “legs under you”, writing out your speech builds confidence. Create yourself a clear and simple outline to follow during your talk. Arrive early where ever your speaking engagement is because rushing can cause unnecessary anxiety that can impede performance as well. Be sure your dress attire is sharp as well.
3. Fire Side Chat: When you mount the podium don’t see yourself as this distant outer space being that is detached from your audience. Rather handle it like you’re having a conversation with friends you know. Don’t talk down or at people, but talk to them. This posture will help you relax more. Make eye contact so people will absorb you.
4. Experiences can bring ease: I was always taught that no man or woman should speak beyond their knowledge. Why? It begins to complicate their message and they will lose their audience because people can tell when you are not being real with them. Don’t fake it it till you make it. Why not stick to your “guns”? Meaning, you can ease some of your speaking fears by speaking from your personal experiences or a certain field that you have become an expert in. Speak on something that you are so passionate about that you can talk about it for hours. Even if you had a bad experience growing up, I’m sure there is someone who can relate. Don’t hide your light.
5. Stick to the Point: Ok let’s be honest. Do you remember anything the speaker at your high school graduation said? I don’t either. I remember last year I was at a graduation ceremony where a speaker tried to cram 30 years of research into a 45 minute speech. So after his introduction the students were not listening. Rambling is a turn off and soon your audience will give you the cold shoulder and some droopy-eyed action. Don’t cram your message. You won;t be able to get it all out in one day. Give them just enough to want you back for more. Leave them on the edge. Set one theme for it and have about four supporting details to go along with it. Stick to your points. Your audience will thank you for it and your confidence will soar.