A Guest Post from Catherine Joyner
You’re standing on a podium behind a lectern giving a speech to a packed house and you’re hands start shaking ever so slightly. You start to notice beads of sweat trickling down your face and you become self-conscious and nervous that people will notice. You’re voice starts quivering and you feel nauseous.
This scenario might be a bit dramatic, but public speaking is a common fear among people; statistics have shown that people are more afraid of public speaking than rattlesnakes and death. How can you demolish your fear of public speaking and become a pro in no time?
Just follow these simple tips:
Cliché Tip: Envision the Crowd in Their Underwear
Almost certainly this advice has been given since the inception of public speaking, but it just so happens to work. If you start to get nervous, a good coping mechanism is to envision the entire crowd in something embarrassing: their undergarments, silly clothes or pretend everyone has a mustache — even the women.
Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Now, you can’t expect to go into a seminar and take over the room like the CEO and Global Chairman of Ernst & Young, Mark Weinberger, does. If you know you have a big presentation at work or you are the guest speaker at a seminar, the best thing you can do — besides being well-prepared and having your speech memorized — is to practice on family and friends. Your family and friends are willing to help you get over your fear of public speaking so don’t be afraid to practice on them. Keep practicing over and over with different crowds; start with a few friends, then work your way up to a larger room.
Figure Out Your Stress Triggers
People are stressed and worried about public speaking for many different reasons. Figure out which trigger bothers you the most so you can focus on fixing the problem, which will ultimately help you fix your anxiety about public speaking. According to The Huffington Post, the most common stress triggers are:
- Are they judging me?
- What will they think of me?
- Am I smart enough?
- What if I mess up?
- Who am I to talk in front of these people?
Do any of those triggers effect you? Which one in particular makes you the most nervous or uncomfortable? If you need to, pretend you are in front of a crowd. Take note of which thought comes to mind first? When you figure out what your triggers are, start to focus on them and tell yourself these things instead:
- Lots of people are interested in my topic.
- I am really well prepared.
- I choose to trust that they’ll love my speech.
- I can definitely keep people engaged with what I have to say.
- I’m so excited to share my message with all these great people.
Make a Fool of Yourself
To help you relax when public speaking, be comfortable with yourself being a fool; your humility will project the confidence of a leader who speaks with authority. If you spend a little time each week making a fool of yourself, it will help alleviate your fear. How should you act a fool? Try taking some acting glasses or take an improvisation class. Give your friends a toast for no apparent reason, out of the blue. If you can laugh at yourself, you will be able to let the stress of speaking aloud roll off your shoulders.