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Ace Any Public Speaking Gig with these 6 Tips Backed by Science

Ace Any Public Speaking Gig with these 6 Tips Backed by Science

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:

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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!

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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.[1] 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?

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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.[2]

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.[3] 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.

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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

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Cris Antonio

Content Strategist, Storyteller

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Last Updated on September 23, 2020

5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

Facebook is embedded into lives around the world. We use it to connect with friends, share important milestones, and check in with the news. However, what may seem like harmless scrolling can become harmful if it takes up inordinate amounts of time and turns into a Facebook addiction.

The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the symptoms and psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below you’ll find the common causes, and the good news is that, once you’ve identified them, you can implement specific strategies to get over your Facebook addiction.

Symptoms of a Facebook Addiction

Do you find that the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your phone and scroll through Facebook? Is it the last thing you see before falling asleep? You may have a Facebook addiction. Here are some more of the signs and symptoms[1]:

  • You end up spending hours on Facebook, even when you don’t mean to.
  • You use Facebook to escape problems or change your mood.
  • You go to sleep later because you’re glued to your screen.
  • Your relationships are suffering because you spend more time on your phone than you do talking with the people you care about.
  • You automatically pull out your phone when you have free time.

You can check out this TED Talk by Tristan Harris to understand how Facebook and other social media gain and hold our attention:

Psychological Reasons for a Facebook Addiction

A compulsive Facebook addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are often root causes that push you into Facebook, which can ultimately manifest as an addiction once you become dependent on it. Here are some of the common causes.

Procrastination

Facebook can cause procrastination, but many times, your tendency to procrastinate can lead you to scrolling through your Facebook feed.

Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate[2] by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing.

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Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, right?

Loneliness or Indecision

Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it.

You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re likely doing it because you’re lonely and in need of attention or approval[3].

Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

Social Comparisons

Social comparison is a natural part of being human[4]. We need to know where we stand in order to judge our rank among our peers. And Facebook has made this all too easy.

When we get into Facebook, our brains are bombarded by hundreds of people to compare ourselves to. We see our cousin’s amazing vacation to Europe, our friend’s adorable baby, our brother’s new puppy, etc. Everything looks better than what we have because, of course, people are only going to post the best parts.

This extreme form of social comparison with a Facebook addiction can, unfortunately, lead to depression. One study pointed out that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others”[5].

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People-Pleasing

Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification[6]. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things.

Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior if overproduced. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like,” your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your Facebook feed during a date because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive because a friend might have something exciting to share.

One study found that “a high level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are predictors of Facebook intrusion, while a low level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are related to satisfaction with life”[7].

Therefore, while you may feel temporarily glad that you didn’t miss something, research shows that FOMO will actually reduce your overall life satisfaction.

How to Break a Facebook Addiction

Now that you know some of the causes of a Facebook addiction, you may be ready to break it. If so, follow these 5 steps to get over your addiction and improve your mental health.

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1. Admit the Addiction

You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed.

Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

2. Be Mindful of Triggers

In order to discover the triggers that lead you to use Facebook, ask yourself the following questions. It may be helpful to write them down at a journal.

  • What did I do? (scrolling, sharing, notification checking, etc.)
  • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
  • What happened right before? (a stressful event, boredom, etc.)
  • How did this make me feel? (stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc.)

Once you’re aware of what pushes you to use Facebook, you can work on tackling those specific things to get over your Facebook addiction.

3. Learn to Recognize the Urge

Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior—NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step 2 because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

Have a plan for when you feel the desire to use Facebook. For example, if you know you use it when you’re bored, plan to practice a hobby instead. If you use it when you’re stressed, create a relaxation routine instead of jumping on Facebook.

4. Practice Self-Compassion

Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted.

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Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

5. Replace the Addiction With a Positive Alternative

It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed.

The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste.

Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

For example, download an app to help you determine exactly how much time is spent on Facebook so you know how much of your life you’re losing to it. Then, when you find a healthy alternative, you can feel good about all the time you’re giving to it!

Final Thoughts

Facebook addictions aren’t uncommon in today’s technologically dependent world. In the pursuit of human connection, we’ve mistakenly taken our interactions online, thinking it would be an easier alternative. Unfortunately, this is no replacement for genuine, face-to-face interaction in real life.

If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to tackle it. Get started today and improve your overall well-being.

More on How to Use Social Media Less

Featured photo credit: Tim Bennett via unsplash.com

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