By : Damon Hopkins
Submitted 2009-04-23 15:06:36
Whether you’re standing before an audience of businesspeople or your classmates, the effect is the same. All of your preparation flies out the window, your knees knock together and you must force yourself to take the stage. Public speaking is a terrifying experience for most people, but it need not be. Most people would rather have a root canal performed than speak in front of a group of people. However, performing well in this environment is not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, it can be an enjoyable experience once you get past your fear of public speaking.
To succeed in the corporate world and to some extent your own personal world, overcoming your fear of public speaking is essential. Which poses the questions: How do you get past this seemingly insurmountable obstacle? How do you bury that fear deep in your heart and not let it overwhelm your defenses? How do you survive such a ghastly ordeal?
1. It’s Not as Bad as It Seems
The very first thing you need to understand is that it is not as bad as it seems. You are focusing on the bad things, the things that might happen or could happen that would make you seem foolish or unprepared, that would make your audience laugh in derision, rather than in good humor. Such fears are natural, but baseless. The audience is not there to laugh at you; they have no desire to pick apart your performance looking for absurdities. They have come to hear you speak. They believe you have valuable information to impart and they want to know what you have to say. They obviously place a great deal of value on your opinion and expertise; else, they would have found somewhere else to go.
2. Everyone Experiences a Fear of Public Speaking
Everyone experiences a fear of public speaking, no matter how experienced a speaker they might be. This is important to understand – everyone feels the same fear, the same trepidation. Everyone gets the same butterflies in their stomach and experiences the same sweat-slicked palms; even those with years of experience under their belts still succumb to the fear of public speaking. So what does this tell you? It tells you two things: first, the fear you feel is natural and nothing of which to be ashamed. Second, it tells you that you are not alone and if you work through it, you can reap tremendous rewards.
3. You are the Expert – You were Chosen to Speak for a Reason
Perhaps you have the most in-depth understanding of a particular product’s features. Perhaps you are responsible for developing and implementing new techniques with wide-ranging ramifications. Maybe you are the only person who understands your company’s new product/service and must explain how it works to potential investors or even to company sales reps. Regardless of the reason, you are the expert – it was no mere accident you were chosen to speak at this event. You have important, vital, unique information to impart, which brings enormous value to your audience. This is your chance to share your information, so that alone should help you resolve your fear for public speaking.
4. Understand the Value You Bring to the Table
Once you understand the value you bring to the table, the rest of the process is very simple. While overcoming that fear of public speaking might seem impossible, you can use numerous techniques to help you move past it. For instance, meditation-style breathing techniques, used before you take the stage, will help slow your racing heart and stem the flood of adrenaline surging through your body.
Remember that the audience is likely not going to notice your sweating palms or your nervousness; in many ways, fear of public speaking is simply all in your mind. Having a positive mindset and the right outlook on the event will help you move past this fear. Remember, you are the expert here, take that to heart, and all else will fall into place and you can confidently deliver your engaging speech.
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