People fear public speaking more than they fear death, most studies reveal. Jerry Seinfeld joked how most people would rather be in the casket than recite the eulogy at a funeral. Then again, those who make the effort and overcome the fear of public speaking, they can tell you - it's worth it!
In this article, we'll give you 5 tips to unleash the speaker in you.
Call it what it is: Fear of failure
Fear of public speaking is not the fear of speaking in public, for most of us it is the fear that we'd fail. If we didn't know the shame of failure, the number of eyes on us wouldn't matter. We dread public speaking because we fear living up to our own expectations. We are afraid that our insecurities are true, that maybe we aren't this and that, as we'd like to believe. At some point, we must come to realize that this fear hurts our professional and personal lives and prevents us from fully embracing ourselves as speakers.
You ARE a speaker
Yes, you are. You know your unique truth that no one else can ever fully know and live except for you. You are an interesting person. You may find your life mundane and unexciting but it can be a treasure trove for others. Find those others and converse with them. Develop a genuine love for speaking by speaking everyday. Practice is one of the best ways to overcome anxiety over public speaking because through forming this habit, you are forming a mindset of a speaker - and we all know, your mindset will determine how far you will go.
You'll be surprised that even the most skilled public speakers experience anxiety, too. What makes the difference, however, is how they choose to deal with their fear. Take Warren Buffet for example. Initially, he felt insecure in teaching investing principles to people twice his age, but because his job involved talking to people over and over again, this gave him the necessary exposure and experience to hone his confidence and skills.
Public speaking skills are a muscle that needs to be trained. So no, there are no natural-born public speakers, just a majority not utilizing the opportunities to speak to their advantage.
Be an active learner
What speeches have struck you and why? TED talks make an excellent resource because they showcase a variety of speakers from different backgrounds and origins, discussing every topic under the sun. Next time you watch a speech, take notes of what worked and what did not. You'll notice that the best speakers employ the same techniques. One such technique is the effective use of the speech pause.
Not only are the best speeches made by the words that compose them, but also the spaces in-between them. Pauses can evoke emotions not only to the viewers, but for the speakers themselves. The difference between authority and nervousness is through your speech pause, the rate of your speaking, and so on. Aside from observing these from others, practice these yourself. Experiment with pauses. It's alright to "copy" styles from those who inspire you if it's to help you find your own style.
Use power poses
Your posture and body language affect your state of mind, and vice versa. Why do supermodels exude effortless confidence? Because they deliver themselves with confidence! They stand with their shoulders pushed back, their backs straight, and nose up high. This pose radiates confidence and it rubs off on them.
When you are nervous, the worst thing you can do is to slouch and shake. This won't promote good circulation in the body, causing you to feel stressed out (i.e. your typical desk worker). Next time you are nervous, strike out a power pose. Work out how this looks and feels for you. Practice posing in the mirror and work out which makes you feel most beautiful and confident.
It also helps to shake off the tension before delivering your speech. Confident poses put you in a better mood and in a mindset for expression. And just as power poses aid in circulation, remember to breath. When anxiety strikes, breathe.
Say 'yes' and be yourself
Following these tips would be incomplete without your 'YES' to yourself. If you don't accept yourself and your abilities as you are, then you will always be held back. Criticisms, lack of support, these can be turned around into something positive for yourself to learn from your weaknesses and to stand on your own. But if you don't have that 'YES' for yourself, these will be like crippling bricks than stepping stones.
But when you do have that 'YES', you will be yourself and that is the most powerful technique of all because nobody else can be you.
By overcoming your fear of public speaking, you are telling yourself that what you say matters and that you are worth listening to. When you give yourself the chance, your 'YES', you'll find that it's true.
Is there a public speaking tip you'd like to add? Comment, like, and share, we love hearing your thoughts!