According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than giving the speech.
Although not professional public speakers ourselves. We thought it would be worth up putting a few pointers out there to help anyone trying to overcome this fear of public speaking. Especially seeing as people would prefer to die than speak in public. Which is a scary thought when you put it in perspective really.
You’d assume that most great public speakers were born with such gifts, but you’d be surprised to find out that the vast majority of effective speakers have developed such skills to be where they are.
As such below are a few principles to bear in mind when considering public speaking.
Visualization: If you can see it, you can speak it. Trust the process
Winners in all aspects of life have this in common: they practice visualization to achieve their goals. Executives picture themselves developing new ventures; athletes close their eyes and imagine themselves making that basket, hitting that home run, or breaking that record. The same is true in public speaking. The best way to fight anxiety and to become a more comfortable speaker is to practice in the one place where no one else can see you—your mind. If you visualize on a consistent basis, your mind will become used to the prospect of speaking in public, and pretty soon you’ll conquer any feelings of anxiety.
Description: Make it personal.
Whatever the topic, audiences respond best when speakers personalize their communication. Take every opportunity to put a face on the facts of your presentation. People like to hear about other people’s experiences—the triumphs, tragedies, and everyday humorous anecdotes that make up their lives. Tell stories. Whenever possible, insert a personal-interest element in your public speaking. Not only will it make your listeners warm up to you, but it will also do wonders at putting you at ease.
Perception: Stop trying to be a great “public” speaker.
People want to listen to someone who is interesting, relaxed, and comfortable. In the routine conversations we have every day, we have no problem being ourselves. Yet too often, when we stand up to give a speech, something changes. We focus on the “public” at the expense of the “speaking.” To become an effective public speaker, you must do just the opposite: focus on the speaking and let go of the “public.” Think of it as a conversation between you and the audience. If you can carry on a relaxed conversation with one or two people, you can give a great speech.
Perfection: When you make a mistake, no one cares but you.
Even the most accomplished public speaker will make a mistake at some point. Just keep in mind that you’ll notice more than anyone in your audience. The most important thing a speaker can do after making a mistake is to keep going. Don’t stop and—unless the mistake was truly earth shattering—never apologize to the audience for a minor slip. Unless they are reading the speech during your delivery, the audience won’t know if you left out a word, said the wrong name, or skipped a page.
Discipline: Practice makes perfectly good.
Your goal is not to be a perfect public speaker. There is no such thing. Your goal is to be an effective public speaker. Like anything else in life, it takes practice. We too often take communication for granted because we speak to people everyday. But when your prosperity is directly linked to how well you perform in front a group, you need to give the task the same attention as if you were a professional athlete.
Inspiration: Speak to serve.
For a twist that is sure to take much of the fear out of public speaking, take the focus off of yourself and shift it to your audience. After all, the objective is not to benefit the speaker but to benefit the audience, through teaching, motivation, or entertainment. So in all of your preparation and presentation, you should think about your purpose. How can you help your audience members achieve their goals?