I discovered an alarming statistic, in which 74% of people fear public speaking. It’s said that this fear even surpasses the fear of death. The major problem with the fear of public speaking is that failing to overcome this fear can severely hinder you in many ways. It can impact how quickly you progress in your career, as well as the overall perceived value you present to your organization. Being able to communicate effectively to a large group of people, in a way that inspires action, is critical for success, especially if you currently are or plan to be in a leadership position. As a professional speaker, I have developed my own personal techniques, which have allowed me to embrace this obstacle that so many people face. I would like to share a few of them with you. There are obviously way more than three ways to overcome the fear of public speaking, but I believe this is a good start.
1. Stop Focusing On Yourself
When asking most people why they fear public speaking, most will start by saying something that relates to how they feel about themselves as they stand in front of a large group.
“I feel nervous.”
“Everyone will be staring at me.“
“I don’t know if they will like my message.”
This is the first hurdle you must defeat to overcome this fear. Do you notice a recurring theme within those statements? I do. Fear creates a selfish mindset that forces you to only think about yourself, instead of focusing on those in the crowd whose lives you could possibly impact if they hear what you have to say. You must stop focusing on yourself, how you feel, and what you believe others will say about you. That will just make you go crazy. Instead, you must focus on your audience and the person who needs to hear your message. I go into every speech believing that there is one person who will be changed by something I say. Once I think about that one person, it removes the pressure that comes with focusing on myself. It becomes an obligation instead of a burden. At that point, I take on the belief that, by me being fearful, I am selfishly holding someone else back from improving his or her life. I refuse to believe that I am that selfish person.
2. Stop Making It A Performance
Many people develop anxiety when it comes to public speaking because they feel like it has to be a grand performance that must be absolutely perfect. Many of us feel that if we mess up or stumble, we will be labeled complete failures, and the people around us will never forget. You must view public speaking as having a conversation with a large group of people. Unless you’re an actor or some type of professional performer who is obligated to stick to a script, there is no reason to feel like your message must be absolutely perfect for it to be received and appreciated. The minute you view your speech as an opportunity to connect with people through conversation, instead of a grand performance, the pressure will drastically decrease.
3. Speak From Your Heart
No matter how much you practice and develop as a speaker, one of the greatest ways to help overcome your fear of public speaking is to trust in your ability to speak from the heart as your authentic self. There is something special about speaking from a place of humility, vulnerability, and authenticity, which absolutely kills any type of fear you may have. You are not worried about what anybody thinks when you begin to value your perspective and trust in the knowledge you possess. Some may love your message and others may completely dismiss it. Either way, there is a sense of peace that comes with being able to communicate your truth. I truly believe that any audience you share with will feel your energy, especially when you are being fake or inauthentic. You can have the best delivery, but if it does not come from a place of genuineness, your message won’t be nearly as effective. Once your audience registers that what they are receiving is not real, they will ultimately tune out. And realizing this in the middle of speaking your message always has the tendency to create stress. So, I challenge you to be yourself, right from the beginning! If you are goofy, let that shine through. If you have a loving and caring heart, allow it to permeate your message. The more connected your audience feels, the more they will buy into whatever it is that you have to share.
I hope these tips will help you begin to conquer your fear of public speaking. Remember to stop focusing on yourself, don’t worry about delivering a perfect performance, and just be you. Doing these things will not completely solve the issue of fearing public speaking, but I guarantee it will get you on the right track. If nothing else, remember that people will forget the majority of what you have to say right after you say it. Think about it, how many speakers have you heard in your lifetime? Out of all those speakers, how many of their messages do you actually remember word for word? Exactly.
Rennie Curran is a speaker, life & business coach, and the author of “Free Agent” — Intangible Assets For Overcoming Adversity and Times of Transition.” You can follow him on Twitter @RennieCurran53, Instagram @RennieCurran, or visit his website at www.RennieCurran.com.