I remember the first time I had to give a speech. My hands were clammy, my heart was pounding, and my throat was dry. I was terrified!
I remembered the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and decided to just go for it. I had written and rehearsed my speech. I knew the content and believed in it. “What’s to worry about” I thought, like Nike says "just do it!"
I made it through the speech and it got better once I started. I realized halfway through the speech that I was really enjoying sharing my knowledge with the audience.
If you fear speaking to an audience, here are four things to remember.
1. FEAR is an acronym for Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real. Your mind is extremely powerful. Thoughts are the engine the drives your actions, emotions, and behavior. Think of the last time you feared someone. Just seeing them could bring on a physiological response. Your heart races, your palms sweat and you feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing up as you experience the fight or flight syndrome. When the person walks past you as though you are invisible you are still left with the physiological response for a period of time. This is because your body was flooded by cortisol and endorphins that still course through your bloodstream. You did that, not the person who you feared. You could just as easily have flooded your body with positive feelings and serotonin simply by thinking of something you enjoy like holding your child in your arms, or smiling. So the first thing to remember is you control your response to the outside stimulus. Why not make it something pleasant?
2. The audience wants you to succeed. They have given up their time to come to the venue and listen to what you have to say. Therefore, they look to the podium where you are with positive anticipation.
3. You have been selected because you have experience or knowledge that is valuable and will help the audience to achieve their objectives. You are the expert. They want to know what you know so that they can use it in their careers or their personal life.
4. Each speech becomes easier as your confidence grows with each successful occurrence. The key is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Prepare three to five points you want to share with the audience. Select personal stories that match each point. Write them down and practice them until it flows out of you as though you are speaking just to a friend. Deliver it with confidence even if you have butterflies. They don’t know you have the butterflies. They are focused on learning what you have to share.
By using these four techniques you will approach speaking as the opportunity it is. Besides, you speak to people every day and even with strangers so you’re experienced in speaking. Begin with small speeches and work your way up to the professional level. You’ll be glad you did and will be motivated to speak as often as possible.