Fear of Public Speaking

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you know the feeling: you’re about to speak to a group of people. You walk into the room. Suddenly, your heart is pounding, you’re sweating, you’re dizzy, and you would rather walk barefoot over broken glass – in the snow – than deliver the speech or presentation that you’ve been working so hard to present.
Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking – is one of the most common phobias, and it can be a real stumbling block for people who wish to attract new customers. Of course, there are other ways to get your brand out there, but physically speaking to an audience, connecting with them in person, builds a level of trust that you just can’t get with advertising, emails, or even social media posts. Trust me, if you want to come across as an authority, there is NO better way.
Countless People Suffer
I’ve met with countless people who suffer from this fear. You would probably be surprised at just how many well-respected, successful professionals find themselves in the grips of terror before every speaking engagement. But, like any phobia, you can wrangle your fear and be able to engage your audience. You just need a little help.
Get OVER you to get INTO others
I’ve coined a Chantiesm I often use in training, “You need to get over YOU to get into THEM.” I’ll say, Imagine if I took a photo of us all, then sent each of you a copy. When you see it, who do you look at first? C’mon, be honest, you look at yourself, right? We chuckle because it’s true. We ALL do it. The gist of it is, you can stop worrying about what others think of you because people are too busy thinking about THEMSELVES, they’re not giving YOU much thought at all – unless you give them a good reason. You want to be memorable and that is where great presentation skills come in.
People Actually Want You to Succeed
The reality is, your audience wants you to succeed. If you don’t do a great job, it won’t make that much of an impression; they will have forgotten all about your presentation within the week. On the other hand, if you do something really stupid or embarrassing, they’ll definitely remember that.
Wait a minute! Is this what you’re afraid of? That you’ll come out on stage and fall flat on your face? Let me encourage you. There is nothing that can happen to you that you can’t use to your advantage. Darren LaCroix fell flat on his face in front of a huge audience while competing in the World Championships of Public Speaking in 2005. He not only used the fall to his advantage, he went on to win the 2005 world championships and wrote a book entitled, “How I Fell on my Face to the Top.”
A Pocket Full of Strategy
All you need is a “pocket full of strategy” and a great attitude. If you screw up, be the first to laugh. People love vulnerability. It helps them relate to you and feel better about themselves. I once watched a video posted on Facebook of models tottering on high heels before falling on the runway. I felt excruciating embarrassment for those who tried to get back on their feet with their dignity intact, blushing furiously, and totter off, ankles wobbling. One model fell, tried to get up and fell again but still managed to endear herself to the audience. She laughed, threw her hands up in the air and then pointed at her heels as if to say, “Well you try walking in these!”
It’s all about attitude. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun with this. If you screw up, own it (you’re in good company) and move on.
Forget your Lines?
I spent months planning this huge event. Every detail was covered and I was excited to be speaking in front of such a large audience. The day arrived and everything went smoothly until I got up on the stage. Right in the middle of my presentation, I went blank, completely blank. I did not know what I had just said, never mind what I was supposed to say next. I could have reacted like Michael Bay when his teleprompter went down during his endorsement of Samsung’s new curved-screen TV. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and go watch it. You’ll feel so much better about yourself. This is where strategy comes in. Think about what you’d do if you forgot your lines. What could you do? It helps if you have a strategy in advance and this is where my experience comes in. I paused a little longer than usual but kept on smiling at the audience with confidence. My eyes didn’t dart from side to side and I didn’t nervously glance around for my notes. Finally, I said, “Let’s see who has been listening. What did I just say?” Of course, people were listening and hands raised immediately. The audience helped me find my place and once I found my footing, I was able to continue without incident.
In my next post, I’ll be covering creative visualization as a tool for calming your fear of public speaking. In upcoming blogs, I’ll be going over several other methods of getting your nerves under control in order to present yourself and your brand in a positive, successful light.
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