A staggering number of people are afraid of speaking in public, in fact its rated higher than a fear of spiders, divorce or even death! I once worked with a great entrepreneur who was offered an amazing opportunity to appear on Fox news to talk about her brand, she turned it down because of her fear of being in the limelight. I really believe as the title of my book says You are the Brand, and people do business with those they like know and trust, so speaking and being able to share your authentic message is a great way to connect with them.
Here’s a few tips to help you overcome your fears of speaking in public.
- Firstly accept that you may be nervous and imperfect, and that’s ok, in fact the more ‘human’ you are the better. So what if you drop your papers or spill your water?, it makes you relatable. Nerves are normal, its ok to have butterflies in your tummy, but preferably butterflies flying in perfect formation!
2 You will be less nervous the more Preparation you’ve done. Prepare your content carefully, don’t cram in too many ideas and share what you know and are enthusiastic about, you won’t feel as nervous if you’re confident that you are delivering an authentic message. Don’t try and learn the script word for word but DO know the ‘sections’ and asign bullet points to each.
3 Prepare for your performance too, that means saying your words out loud, its muscle memory, practice recording yourself, and watching your body language too.
4 Get your voice ready, do some vocal exercises, some tongue twisters to get your mouth moving and some vocal warm-ups varying the speed and the pitch.
5 Remember the power of the Pause, it’s the punctuation and it can help you out of a tricky moment, if you have lost your thread, just pause, check your notes (don’t have a full script on stage) and carry on, it feels like forever but its probably just seconds.
6 Engage the audience, make eye contact at various points around the room, and believe that these people want to hear your talk and are open to what you have to say. When you first go on stage if there is something bothering you that you feel everyone will be thinking say it first, ie if you have a massive zit on your nose, get that out of the way…come on stage and introduce your zit…if your contact lens are giving you hassle and you need to keep wiping your eyes, flag that up rather than have people wondering if you are upset about something.
7 Before going onstage do some breathing, when we are nervous we breathe in a very shallow way, breathe slowly and deeply.
8 Learn a simple tapping routine EFT (emotional freedom technique) allows you to tap lightly on the side of the wrist, you can say your fears out loud or to yourself but doing a tapping sequence helps to take away the’emotional charge’
9 Stand in the ‘Power Pose’ before you go on stage, just a minute or two in the so called power pose can change your state from one of fear to confidence and strength. Stand with feet apart, chest back head held high and arms by your side, look forwards and up, its impossible to fear sad and scared when you are fully upright, its what psychologists call The Cybernetic loop
10 And the big one….Visualise yourself rocking it! Athletes often visualise themselves beating their own best time, or winning the race, see yourself coming off the stage and punching the air as you say YES I did it!
Check out the online course The Fearless Speaker, Janey Lee Grace and clinical hynotherapist Georgia Foster