Are you scared to speak in public? Do you have stage fright? I have been speaking to audiences since I was 25 years old. When I first started I was terrified. I don’t know why I was scared but I was. Literally could not sleep the night before I had to speak to an audience. And it didn’t matter whether it was a small group or a very large group. I found myself actually avoiding speaking to more than two people at a time.
One day I realized that this fear was holding myself back from my potential to get myself and my ideas known. I asked myself, “how can you ever be successful if you aren’t willing to speak to people?” It was then that I committed overcoming this fear and learn how to speak to audiences with confidence and without fear immobilizing me.
Since that decision I have delivered over 2000 speaking engagements to entrepreneurs, small businesses and even Fortune 500 companies. This week I spoke to an unbelievable audience at Google headquarters in New York. What a great experience to be able to communicate to speak to a company that is so well recognized by the entire world.
Over the years I have learned from other great speakers like John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton, Guy Kawasaki, Harvey McKay, Steve Jobs, Jackie B. Cooper, Joel Osteen, Les Brown, John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins and others. Watching them inspired me to become more confident in my abilities.
Here are a few tips that you may find helpful for handling the fear of public speaking
1) Commit to overcoming the fear. The fear will not go away until ‘it’ is clear that you are committing to speaking in public. Speak as often as you can to as many different groups as you can. After 2000 speaking engagements I still experience some fear but it no longer prevents me from speaking because my commitment is greater than the fear. NY Times Best Selling author, Seth Godin,says, “My only tip is…. speak.”
2) Own the Stage –
When you walk out on the stage or platform, own the stage; make it yours. Plant your feet firmly in one place and anchor in at that one place. Avoid moving around much in the beginning of your presentation so the audience can see that you are confident, grounded in who you are and your position.
3) Speak to the Everyone in the Room and Connect
Be sure that you are communicating beyond the first row and all the way to the back row and to the edges of the room, left and right. Your focus should be to connect to each individual in the room. The first two years I spoke I did so without a microphone forcing me to reach, connect with and project to everyone in the audience. “Everyone Communicates Few Connect”, John Maxwell.
4) Open with Your Message –
Open with that thing you want the audience to remember. “I am here to show you how to double your sales. That’s right, Double YOUR Sales.” Make it very clear in the first one minute what the audience is going to get from your presentation. Make your opening statement bold, promising, inspiring and hopeful of massive gain. Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine and partner with Tony Robbins says,: “Open strong. If you open strong, the audience will be patient for 20 minutes.”
5) Pick a Topic That You are Confident –
Speak on subjects on which you are an authority, expert and have complete confidence. Use this as a way to gain altitude over your audience. Everyone has some angle or positioning that makes them the authority in a room with the most altitude. Use your expert positioning to grow your own confidence and to have your audience know that. The great sales expert, Harvey Mackay, says “The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about.”
6) Hammer Away at Your Opening Message –
Distill your message down to a few points and then repeatedly beat it to death. A big mistake is to try to cover too many things in one presentation. Make sure your audience walks away from your event with one message ringing violently in their heads. Simplify your message down to a a thing or two rather than many. Les Brown, says, “Read, study and over prepare.”
7) Close Big –
Your closes should be compelling and inspiring providing your audience with a reason to be moved. Great speakers always bring a great close to their presentation. By this time the fear has subsided so be careful not to take the close for granted. Finish big!
Everyone I know experiences some level of fear when speaking in public. Don’t think you have some disability – it’s normal. Commit to speaking and the fear will subside. Then learn from other great speakers. Whether it is for a simple job interview, a presentation at your office, a sales presentation to one customer or many, to your church, community or school there is no getting away from the idea that at some time in your life you will be forced to speak in public.
The ability to speak confidently and comfortably in public is one of the keys to creating success in your life.