What’s your reaction when you are presented with an opportunity to speak in front of a group or over a Zoom call? Does your heart rate go up? Do your hands start to sweat? Do you feel that anxiety build within your chest and core? Yeah, well, join the club! So many people, or should I say so many of us, experience varying degrees of anxiety when we’re asked to speak in front of a group. It’s natural…so what can you do about it? I’ll touch on that momentarily so hold that thought. In the meantime, I want you to take a step back to get a clear picture of what you’re looking at.
When you perform a Google search for the 10 biggest fears that people have, literally millions of hits will come up. You find out very quickly that there is not a universally accepted list of the biggest fears that people have, however, there are some fears that come up on several lists. Fear of failure, fear of heights, fear of snakes, and the fear of death are just a few.
One other fear that shows up very frequently towards the top of the list is the fear of public speaking. Several lists have that fear above the fear of dying so let’s just say that if you get anxious about public speaking, you’re not alone. But since public speaking is an excellent way to market yourself and your business, we’ve got to develop techniques to get around that fear! Notice I didn’t say over that fear. What I’m suggesting is that I’ve heard very polished speakers, who you couldn’t imagine experiencing any anxiety, admit to being nervous prior to an important presentation.
What? Even the pros experience those challenges even after they’ve done it so many times? Absolutely. Now, back to the question of what you can do about it. This is a list that I’ve kept handy over the years that has really helped me and I hope it will help you too.
- Preparation – This will really help bring down the heart rate. Practice in front of a mirror and give your presentation until you’re tired of hearing yourself talk. That should be just about right.
- Deliver To A Small Group – This could be family, friends, employees, or just a single person. It’s helpful to realize that as soon as you’re no longer practicing in front of a mirror, things can change.
- Use Index Cards – If necessary, write your outline on index cards so that you can stay on track but don’t try to write your entire speech word for word. Believe me, that can be a recipe for disaster.
- Start Strong – Start your presentation with an attention-getting story or a quote. If you can score a touchdown in the first 30 seconds, you’re more likely to ‘win them over and get them nodding their heads in approval.
- Remember Who You’re Talking To – Everyone in your audience experiences some level of anxiety when speaking in front of a group. Just relax and have fun. After all, you’re prepared and ready to go!
- Mic Drop The Finish – Not literally, of course, or you might be paying for a microphone, but finish strong with a heart-felt story, a call to action, or a powerful message. Just like the touchdown example in #4, people are glued to the TV during the last minutes of the game. Send them away with something worth talking about.
When you’re experiencing that nervous energy, use that energy for good! Let it drive you to put in the extra time and effort needed to get yourself more comfortable prior to ‘GameTime’.
You owe it to yourself to perform at your very best!
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