Three people called me this week because their public speaking fear is holding them back. It's affecting their brand, their reputation, and their career advancement. It's causing them to remain quiet in meetings and to decline speaking opportunities. It’s time to knock out the fear of public speaking!
Public speaking is no different from any other fear and you can kick the habit long before you kick the bucket. When I first wrote my book, Knockout Presentations, I surveyed people in my presentation seminars and asked them why they were nervous. They’d respond, “All eyes are on me.” “What if I lose my train of thought?” “My voice shakes.” After analyzing the responses it was clear that there was a common underlying issue. Most people are afraid of humiliation.
One woman I coached was a successful salesperson one-on-one but would freeze when speaking before a group. After some probing we traced her fear back to the seventh grade when her math teacher embarrassed her in class. It wasn’t even about public speaking! Yet she generalized this fear and took it into adulthood. Most fears are irrational.
So the lesson is…..get over yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about the audience. There are two basic ways to develop confidence. The first is to change your mindset. Go back in time and discover when you first developed this fear. Identify the negative belief you created and substitute a new positive belief. The second is skill. When my clients learn the “science of speaking” and adopt the uniform of confidence, the nervousness weakens. It’s amazing how confidence grows when presenters learn what to do with their hands, how to make eye contact, and how to work a room.
Here are a few quick tips for conquering public speaking jitters:
Prepare and practice. Don’t wing it. Plan a timeline and don’t wait until the last minute to create your speech. Then practice out loud and time yourself. The more you prepare, the more confidence you’ll feel. Success is 90% preparation and only 10% delivery.
Focus on the breath. Most people hold their breath when in a fear state. Instead, breathe from deep down in the belly. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Do this a number of times. It will slow your physiology and your racing heart.
Change your mental software. What you focus on, grows. Write out a positive affirming statement and say it to yourself. Be sure it is present tense and positively worded. “I am confident” works better than “I will not be nervous.”
Make a commitment today. Call a coach, book a class, read a book, volunteer to speak. You’ll be confident before you know it. For more tips, subscribe to my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/dianediresta.
Let us know your best tip to conquer public speaking nervousness now.