Friday, June 29, 2012

PUBLIC SPEAKING: Giving The Speech - Fear Not

Fighting the Fear
In a survey of Americans... more than 40 percent say their number one fear is public speaking.  That's comfortably ahead of death - which finishes about 20 percent behind!  That's right... speaking in front of a group truly scares most people to death. 

But it doesn't have to and it really shouldn't.  If you want to be better than you are, or go higher in your career than you think you can, the art of the talk is a good way to get there.  And if speaking doesn't come easy, I've got a few things that might help.  The goal here is that you'll die for the opportunity.

* First of all.... understand that "anxiety" is the norm.  It's there and you can't do anything about it.  So embrace it as real and use it to your advantage.  There isn't an NBA player who doesn't get nervous about the late game free-throw that could decide the game.  Butterflies are real for everyone.  And as someone once told me... the key is to make them fly in formation.

Who's Out There?
*Preparation is huge.  And it's not just about the material of your talk.  It's about the audience that's in front of you.  Who are they?  Do you work with them?  Are you the expert who's been asked to come in to motivate employees from another company?  Is it a relaxed cocktail crowd? Also prepare to know just enough about their line of work and their companies issues to be comfortable and confident.

* Understand your fears and learn to accept them.  First is the fear of the unknown... as in your audience, the room you're speaking in, or the goals of the audience and what they expect from you.  Second is the fear of embarrassment or forgetting the material you are speaking about.  Deal with this by rehearsing the talk, but having fallback material in case of a misstep or a talker's "power outage."  And third, is the unanticipated questions.  For some, fear comes from the pressure to produce the right answer.  The key is to answer the obvious questions before they come by having a thorough presentation that covers them.... and anticipate the others you could get but might not.

* Practice... and then practice some more.  It never hurts to create a mock stage and visualize the audience in front of you.  All you need is a room and some time to gain the needed confidence.

* Don't apologize for nervousness.  Trust me, they can tell if you are or you aren't.  A few deep breaths before you hit the stage never hurts and a nice dose of enthusiasm to start your talk can help you get out of the gates with success.  Enthusiasm and a good smile halts anxiety.

There isn't a person alive who doesn't get the heart racing before a speaking engagement.  It's normal so keep that in mind.  And one more thing.... remember that everyone in front of you WANTS to see you succeed.  There is nothing more uncomfortable than being in an audience and watching someone fail in front of them.

So whether you're delivering a toast, an important business presentation or a formal talk..... it's all great experience on the way to becoming even better.  There is no such thing as a bad speaking opportunity. And those who work to be better... find themselves with plenty more. I'd love to hear your "speaking stories"... and how this might relate to you.  Comment below and thanks for reading.

* Need help shaping your message, sharpening your delivery and selling your brand?

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1 comment:

  1. I flunked speech 101. Then found myself infront of an audience. I always had plan "B" for when my anxiety kicked in full throttle. There was someone in the wings to step out and take the stage.

    One speeking engagement I felt the nerves take hold of me again. A smile come over me with the thoughts of when is this going to stop. My smile caught a gentelman in the audience and he smiled back. It was a natural gesture with good feelings, my esclating nerves were calmed by a smile.

    From that moment on I started talking to one person and then another. The communication with one out of the crowd and moving on to another and another. This gave me the freedom to move beyond my fears and speek in front of the crowd.