According to a recent survey, the only thing that ranks above public speaking fear is having your foot stuck in a meat grinder. Just kidding, but it is true that the fear of speaking to a group always ranks inordinately high in the mind of the average American, driving them to incredible lengths to avoid ever having to do it. The problem is that sometimes you simply cannot get out of it. For those times, we offer the following six tips to overcome public speaking fear.
1. Practice. Practice. Practice: Did we mention you should thoroughly rehearse your speech? Not only does it desensitize your fear through familiarity with the subject matter but it allows you to get feedback for improvement. That’s where family and friends come in.
2. Eye Contact: If possible, be familiar not only with your material but also the space where you will be delivering it. This frees up brain space to make eye contact with individual audience members, a habit that helps bring them into your space, and also allows you to judge their reaction and adjust your speech on the fly, if necessary.
3. Visualize the Positive: We humans have a nasty little habit of always imagining the worse, which probably accounts for the spike in Tums sales right before a speech. Public speaking fear again. Switch the whole thing around and try visualizing the positive instead. You might like it. Imagine the elation and relief you’ll experience “on the other side” after the speech is over and done.
4. Research the Audience: Learn something about who you are speaking too. Get a guest list and mention a few by name or the host or group leader. The more you can put yourself in their shoes, the more it takes you out of your own paranoid thoughts of failure and occupies your brain with a productive task.
5. Communication – Not Performance: Unless you’re a famous standup comedian, remember that the audience is sitting there because they’re interested in the substance of what you have to say. Don’t interpret this as a license to be dull, but flailing around the stage in a theatrical frenzy is not always a good choice. Some speakers are naturally energetic, but you shouldn’t try to do it falsely if you’re not. What you MUST have is a passion about your topic. When that shines through, you’ve got no more worries.
The Speaking of Wealth Team
Flickr / Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha