Did you know that the fear of public speaking is THE number one thing most people are afraid of?
Believe it or not, the fear of death only comes in at second place. In a joke said on the popular show Seinfeld, he said that:
“To the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
It may seem odd, but even the most seasoned public speakers will tell you that they still get the jitters from time to time.
Whether you’re about to give a toast at a bridal reception, or you need to pitch a proposal to a client, getting over your fear of public speaking can open up a lot of doors. You’ll appear as someone who’s confident, talented, and charismatic. You might even get promoted, too.
You’ve undoubtedly heard countless advice on public speaking, from imagining the audience in their underwear to carrying a rabbit’s foot in your pocket. But, your best bet comes right down to science.
Keep these six tips in mind and you should ace ANY speaking engagement like a pro:
1. Come prepared for the event.
“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.”
– Michael H. Mescon, author and speaker
Even if it’s totally last minute, there are still things you can do to prep for the speech. Were you asked by your boss to give a sales pitch? Do you need to be the Master of Ceremonies for a friend’s wedding reception? The less prepared you are, the more anxious you’ll get. Plus, there’s nothing worse than rambling about irrelevant ideas.
Use the Web to search for similar speeches or for inspiration to create your own. Read on related topics. Write important notes on index cards as a guide during the presentation. Do whatever it takes to come prepared for your intention.
2. Carry something familiar.
“A good orator is pointed and impassioned.”
– Marcus Cicero, Roman philosopher and orator
It’s normal to find yourself feeling anxious or jittery – no matter how prepared you are. Just thinking about facing your fears is NOT enough. If it’s your first public speaking gig, you might be so stressed that you’re ready to flee!
To calm your nerves, try carrying something familiar with you. It could be your favorite pen, a keychain, or that bracelet your spouse gave you. Hold it in your hand for a few minutes while concentrating on your breathing.
Speaking in public is usually scary because it forces people to be in situations that are alien to them. By carrying something special with you, you create a safe space that’s familiar to you.
3. Hum a tune BEFORE the public speaking event.
Humming your favorite tune has several health benefits. One, it helps calm your nerves. In fact, it’s one of the fastest ways to relieve stress. Secondly, it improves airflow between your sinuses. This is great if you want to avoid sounding “stuffy” during one of your talks.
So relax your mind by whistling a happy a tune. Aside from helping your mind focus, it can also soothe your nerves so you won’t feel as nervous once you step onto the stage. Simple songs like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme should work well for this drill.
4. Shift your mindset from YOU to YOUR AUDIENCE.
“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send, but by what the listener receives.”
– Lilly Walters, motivational keynote speaker
One of the main reasons people fear public speaking is because we are afraid of being put under the spotlight. What if we get laughed at? What if we jumble our words? What if we stumble and fall flat on our face?
The human mind is geared to go through every bad scenario we can think of. But blogger and motivational speaker, Michael Hyatt, says that once we change our perspective from US to OUR AUDIENCE, our fear suddenly becomes irrational.
Think about it: if you are asked to speak, do you believe it’s because people want to see you fail? Audiences attend public speaking events because they want to gain something. Whether it’s new information or a sense of inspiration, you have been given the task to relay a message.
The question now is: how can you best deliver this point across? Looking at it from this angle, talking to a crowd doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
5. Begin with a story.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Carl W. Buechner, writer and theologian
When you tell a story, you light up seven areas in the brain of your listeners, as opposed to only two when you cite facts or figures. You don’t need to ooze with confidence to tell a good story. In fact, audiences will care more for the warmth or emotions associated with it.
Make it personal. What events in your life can you relate to your talk? What values or life lessons can your listeners gain from it? Then, start stringing together words: describe details, give dramatic pauses, and smile.
6. Practice public speaking at every opportunity.
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, lecturer, and poet
As they say, “practice makes perfect”. Of course, even the most seasoned speakers in the world still get the butterflies before every gig. But as they do it all the time, it just becomes second nature to them.
Whether your industry calls for it or not, getting over the fear of public speaking will open up plenty of doors for you. It will help you meet new friends, communicate better, and look great on your resume. Not bad things to have.
Grab every opportunity to speak in front of a crowd, whether it’s an audience for three folks or 33,000 people. Tell a joke to a small group of friends. Give an impromptu speech for the bride and groom. Offer to do the sales pitch for that important client.
Before you know it, you would’ve conquered the world’s greatest fear.
Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske/Pexels.com via pexels.com
|Psychology Today: Hum a Happy Tune for Wellness
|Michael Hyatt: How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
|Ethos3: How To Find A Story To Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations