6 More Ways To Control Your Fear Of
Public Speaking

In the previous article on controlling your fear of public speaking, we reviewed 6 ideas on how you can leverage those physical symptoms, turn that fear into excitement, and get those butterflies flying in formation.

Below you’ll find 6 more ideas to help you master the inner game of public speaking and channel that energy to your benefit. Doesn’t matter if you are a sales rep presenting your solution to a small executive team, a manager leading a team of 20 operations people, or an engineer presenting a paper at a conference.

Put one or two of these ideas into play before your next big public speaking event and notice your increase in confidence when you finally take center stage.

Practice With Your Visuals And Equipment.

As with any performance, you need to make sure that your equipment is working. In racing, coaches encourage runners not to wear new shoes for a big race. They don’t know where the pressure points are and the shoes aren’t broken in yet. Best to put in a few miles on the shoes before using them for a race.

The same concept applies in public speaking events. Batteries go dead, laptops do strange things sometimes on their own, projector bulbs go dead, white board markers go dry… stuff happens.

You want to make sure that all of your equipment is working and you want to get a feel for how their placement will work within your performance. When you know your equipment works and you know how you will use it through practice, your persona will exude confidence. You have enough to think about in keeping your audience engage. You don’t want to start wondering if your equipment is operational or how to use it to emphasize your points.

Be You. Pretend You Are Talking To Your Friends And Don’t Strive For Perfection. The Audience Will Forgive Mistakes.

There are a lot of great professional speakers out there that we can idolize and emulate. Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, and Patricia Fripp to name a few. However, to relax and perform at your peak level, the best speaker you can emulate is you. There are styles you can copy and tactics you can use.

But when you are in front of an audience, your best strategy is to be yourself. The audience would rather be addressed by a first rate you over a copy of some other speaker. If they wanted Patricia Fripp, they would have hired her. Instead, they hired you. Don’t disappoint them. Give them the best personal performance of your career.

The other thing to remember is that there is no such thing as perfection. There is only the delivery of your presentation. If you’ve been to enough live performances, in particular rock concerts, you will notice slight variations between the live performance and the recorded version.

When performers make a mistake during live performances, they don’t tell everyone to stop, apologize and say, “let’s go back and redo that last section”. They keep on going. And most of the time, the audience doesn’t even care. It imparts a unique flavor to the performance that they can find nowhere else.

Take a lesson from these performers when speaking in public. If you make a mistake, keep moving forward and either make adjustments later in the presentation or forget about it. Your audience will care more about your passion and commitment over stops, gaffes and corrections.

Arrive early. Meet With Audience Members And Keep Eye Contact With A Few Of Them During Your Speech.

In working to turn your anxiety and fear of public speaking into excitement and strength, making yourself personable to members in the audience goes far.

By arriving early and meeting with a few members of the audience, you can turn that faceless mob with staring eyes into a group of known friends. And it’s always easier to speak in front of a few friends that you know versus speaking to a “mob” of unknown people.

Make a few members of the audience your personal contacts and your fear of speaking to the group will begin to dwindle. The more people you know, the lesser the fear.

Remember The Three E’s: Earned The Right; Eager To Share; Excited About The Topic.

This is something that we teach in our public speaking programs. By having the requisite knowledge, information and experience on the topic you are about to speak on means that you’ve earned the right to speak on the topic. And with passion, excitement and being eager to share what you know will drive out any performance anxiety that you may have of your public speaking event.

Remember, talk on a topic that you have past experience and knowledge of, be passionate about the topic and want to share your knowledge with your audience. Your public speaking fear and anxiety will rapidly dissipate.

Control Your “Butterflies” By: Using Physical Activity; Give Yourself A Pep Talk; Visualizing A Successful Presentation.

When taking on a new speech, many public speakers forget that their physical manifestations of that anxiety are… physical. If you are experiencing physical symptoms of performance anxiety, such as sweaty palms and a queasy stomach, you can counteract the effects with more physical activity.

Sometimes stretches will work for you. Other times, you’ll require something more. In one program, participants are required to give a rousing presentation with passion and excitement. The last thing I wanted them thinking about is how to deliver their presentation or how well they will perform. So for this session in one particular class, before each participant went up, I had them hunch down like a quarterback and they had to “go through me” in order to do the presentation at the front of the room. For 30 to 45 seconds, each participant tried to perform an end run around me, and by the time they got to the front of the room, performance anxiety was the last thing on their mind. They just got up and spoke with continuity, passion and excitement.

The other thing to remember is to direct your thoughts to support you instead of hindering you. So many people think about the things that they don’t want. They visualize events that scare the pants off of them, and tell themselves how badly they will perform.

These are your thoughts and you can direct them. Envision a happy audience standing up and clapping at the end of your presentation. Tell yourself that you can command the presence of the audience and that you have the experience to speak on the topic at hand.

The experts call it Pollyanna thinking if you visualize a pleasing outcome. They call it realistic thinking when you think about an unpleasant outcome. However, the process is the same. Thinking and visualizing your outcome is typically a prerequisite to attaining the outcome, regardless of what you cal it. The only question you need to ask at this juncture is which outcome do you want.

Remember To Have Fun.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the process. People gravitate towards people that are having a good time and are enjoying the process. No one wants to be around someone that is having a bad time. Know your outcomes and just enjoy the experience.

Being a trainer and coach, I’m always interested in hearing about the results people get when they change how they do things. Feel free to provide your feedback through either Twitter or Facebook and let us know how your public speaking skills are improving.

Larry Prevost
Dale Carnegie Instructor, Social Media Evangelist
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