PUBLIC SPEAKING: An Easy Way to OVERCOME FEAR
Today, let’s talk about how to overcome your fear of public speaking.
Public speaking fear is a huge issue. There are so many different reasons why people can be afraid of getting up and speaking in front of the group. One of the reasons why people often get themselves tied up in knots is because they have what I called “Performing Monkey Syndrome”.
When they visualise themselves speaking in front of a group, they see the group sitting there stony-faced, arms folded, and judgemental. The speaker feels they have the weight of the audience’s expectations on their shoulders. The feel they need to jump around and try to please everybody. Feeling this weight of expectation, having to perform and having to live up to the audience’s dream and desires? Public speaking really shouldn’t have to be like that.
Of course, as a speaker, you’ll be counted upon to be a DIVA, to be lively and Dynamic, to be Inspiring to tell stories, to be a person who’s relaying Valuable information, to be somebody who’s real (Authentic). But in terms of everything resting on the speaker’s shoulders, why should that be? I think that a good speech or a good presentation should be an interactive one, it should be a conversation more than just a one-way flow of information.
Instead of feeling like you’ve got this weight upon you, think of ways that you can bring the audience with you and make it an interactive experience. Are there ways you can make it a conversation?
So instead of you having a performance anxiety, your job is more of being facilitator, a facilitator of the audience learning, a facilitator of them moving forward and being transformed. You’re facilitating things happening to them and if you’re facilitating, that means they have to play a role as well.
What do I mean by that? There are three easy ways where you can get the audience to form a conversational partnership with you rather than you being that monkey dancing on the stage.
Three ways to form a conversational partnership with your audience:
1 – Ask questions when public speaking
Get them to put their hands up. That way as you go along you’ll be understanding them more and more so you can tailor your information to them. Of course, you should have done your research at the beginning before your talk so you should have a good idea of who’s in the audience. But nevertheless, when you’re there make it interactive, make them know that you care about them because you’re asking them questions. You want to find out about them.
For example, you might say “How many of you have done public speaking before?”. If I’m expected to give them some very basic information about public speaking, and then a hundred percent of them put their hands up and say “Yes” they have done plenty of public speaking before, I might need to do a quick edit of my talk and change what I plan of sharing with them so that I can match the experience and expertise the audience already has.
To give you a quick example of what can go wrong or what not to do, let me share this story.
A few months ago, I went to a business networking meeting and they had a very senior diplomat there who was speaking to the group of us around the boardroom table.
She launched into her talk without asking a single question of “us” the audience. Without wanting to find out “Why did we come to that talk?”, “What’s our own experience?”, “Are we actually interested in diplomatic service or are we more interested in her experience as a woman working in a very male-oriented profession?”
She didn’t ask any of those questions.
At the beginning of the talk all of us sitting were there with our eyes lit up waiting to hear some real post wisdom, but by the end of the talk we are all sort of “arghh”… you know, the eyes are rolling at the back of the head, a few people have got their mobile phones out, because this person hadn’t ask us a single thing about ourselves. She hadn’t checked in with us along the trajectory of the talk. So by the time the talk is over, she was in one place and we’re in another. People looked bored, they weren’t engaged. That conversation was very much a monologue, the speaker didn’t really hold our interest or appear interested in us.
2 – Group Activities during Public Speaking
You might ask people to reflect on the points that you’re making. This is great because transformation happens when people start to reflect upon their own lives and start to apply the information you’re giving them to their own situations.
In those moments where perhaps you’re thinking you’re not really doing your job as a speaker, those often the most important moments in the presentation because those are the moments that the audience are starting to think about new possibilities and apply your insights to their own situation.
Never be afraid of having interactive group exercises during your presentation. Whether your audience is huge or tiny, you can have some group activities going on.
3 – Audience takeaways during public speaking
At the very end of your presentation, you want to ask your audience “What did you get from this presentation?”. Provide a way to have them put their hands up or yell out to you. You want to find out from that audience what did they get, what did they understand, what was beneficial to them.
You may have given them 5 points but if they only share one back with you while the other 4 are forgotten, this might help you realise that the remaining 4 points didn’t hit home.
Takeaways are brilliant for both you and the audience because the audience hears in their own words what the message was that you were delivering to them. And sometimes when they paraphrase back your message, those words can be more powerful to them or it may strike a bit more of a chord with them than the words that you used.
To summarise, don’t worry about being that performing monkey. You are a facilitator! Obviously, in some situations, like a TedX or TED Talk, you may not have an opportunity to include these group exercises but at the very least you could still ask for a show of hands.
Why not show the audience that you care about their opinion and you care about who they are, where they are on their journey by soliciting a bit of feedback from them.
Most of the time, when we’re worrying about public speaking it’s because we’re afraid of being judged. But if you’re conversing with somebody or with a group, they have to take some responsibility as well.
Try this and your fear of being judged will hopefully lessen over time.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your business:
1 – Get my free guide – 27 places to find speaking opportunities.
Find out where your next speaking opportunity might come from – whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced speaker.
2 – Join my Facebook Group – Public Speaking for Female Coaches and Entrepreneurs.
Join us for tips, discussions and community!
3 – Join my group coaching program – Get Clients with Speaking in 60 Days.
This is a comprehensive online course for coaches and entrepreneurs who want to build their business with speaking. You’ll find thorough advice on how to become a competent public speaker as well as how to develop a marketing system to grow your business, make a greater impact and earn more cash. It also includes live workshops, Q&A calls and lots of fun bonuses.
4 – Find out about my VIP Days and private coaching.
Book me for a VIP half or full-day session if you want to make some serious progress! We could help you create a business networking strategy and perfect your pitch. Or we could work on your signature talk so that audience members or hungry to work with you. Or we could explore frameworks and strategies to help give you confidence whether you’re speaking at conferences, in meetings or at other events. Or more!!
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