Surmounting Speech Anxiety
It starts from the ground up. First, your foot taps rapidly against the floor like it’s trying to deliver a Morse code message. Next, you feel like a boy scout just finished a knot-tying lesson in your stomach. Then your heart starts beating so hard you think it might jump out of your chest and plop down on the floor in front of you. Your hands are sweaty, shaky messes. Your mouth feels like you just ate a sandbox. Beads of sweat gather on your forehead. Needless to say, you’ve felt more comfortable.
Whether you’re preparing for a nationally-syndicated speech or you’re addressing fifteen co-workers at a company meeting, people tend to fear public speaking. For some of us, it might not be to the extent of the aforementioned symptoms, but for others, that scenario is all too familiar. But, you need to do it. And, you need to believe you can do it. So, here are a few pointers to not only help you get through public speaking, but to get through it well with a little public speaking training.
Don’t think: how can I survive this? Think: how can I do this brilliantly?
If you plan to do something with confidence and brilliance, you won’t only survive, but you’ll impress people.
Don’t picture the audience in their underwear.
This is a myth. Is picturing your boss in his underwear while you’re trying to talk to him really going to make you feel more comfortable? In fact, I’m pretty sure it will have the exact opposite effect. Imagine that your audience is an attentive group of bigwigs. By viewing them as an audience that depends on every word you say, it will drive you to care more about what you’re saying, and, naturally, you’ll deliver a more powerful speech.
People tend to struggle the most when they’re in the spotlight talking about something they don’t fully understand. It doesn’t matter if it’s a five-minute speech about your department’s use of paper products or a two-hour state of the union address. You need to be confident in what you’re talking about. Effective public speaking doesn’t begin until you’ve got a hold of the subject matter. An actor memorizes their lines before they can immerse themselves in a role, don’t they?
You talk to people all the time. There’s no way you made it this far in life without being able to hold an engaging conversation. Well, that’s all you’re doing. You’re talking to people. Talk to your audience like you would if they were sitting on your living room couch. You’re capable of speaking with passion and excitement, so don’t let the fact that there’s a few more people in the room cripple your ability to speak.