Sure, it’s one of the biggest fears known to man.
Sure, it makes you sick to your stomach days before you have to do it.
Yeah, staring at that crowd of expectant faces magnifies the chance that you’re going to make a complete and utter fool of yourself.
What is Fear?
Really, what is fear any way?
It’s simply your mind’s means of dealing with potential problems. Sometimes it’s danger (like fear of being attacked by a drunk gorilla when you’re walking to your car.) But more often than not, it’s simply fear of potential setbacks, like looking silly or saying the wrong thing.
Now, those are two completely different things, and rational people will handle them differently.
After all, if you’re really in danger – if you know there’s an inebriated primate on the loose in your part of town – then you need to move from the building to the car with extreme caution.
But before falling back on fight-or-flight, you need to ask:
What’s the worst that could happen?
Usually, in circumstances like speaking in front of a crowd, the absolute worst that could happen is you trip up and feel silly for a moment. Sure, it doesn’t feel the best. But are you going to have your arms ripped off and die slowly and painfully to the smell of stale banana daiquiris?
So should you really be afraid?
Embrace Your Fear of Public Speaking
There’s actually several great reasons to embrace this “fear” you feel about speaking in public.
You see, fear is a visceral emotion. It moves you. It causes you to react. It’s very powerful.
So just imagine how much it can help you if you can control that power and make it work for you instead of against you!
You can let that fear energize you, embolden you, enhance your arguments, infuse your speech with power and passion!
Your fear can make you a better speaker!
Here’s the simple method:
- Prepare well. The more prepared you are, the less likely you’ll be to mess up. It’s plain and simple fact.
- Get to the venue early. If possible, get up on stage and see everything as it will be when you get up there for real, but before you’re on the spot. Watch people file in and take that opportunity to mingle and talk. It keeps your mind off the speech, and turns strangers into acquaintances.
- Wait for, recognize, and accept the fear. It’s going to happen. Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, a lump in the throat… just accept it. Then…
- Swallow the fear. You’re well prepared, you’re talking to people you know, you’re in a place you recognize and feel comfortable with… what’s there to fear? To paraphrase a smarter man than me:
I used to get butterflies in my stomach every time I had to speak publicly. I still do. But now they fly in formation.
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