Speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear for the average person.
I remember my first public speaking event.
My palms were sweaty, head was heavy, and my throat felt unsteady.
I stuttered desperately trying to hold myself together. And the more I saw myself shaking, the more I began to stutter. It was a mess.
That was then. Now not only am I comfortable with public speaking but I enjoy it quite a lot.
My work for helping people finally overcome the fear of public speaking has led me to new insights on why we have it and how to finally overcome it.
Why Fear of Public Speaking?
One thing is certain and that is fear of public speaking is an unconscious problem.
Try to tell yourself that you are just in front of people or picture them in their underwear and it won’t work.
You get up there and the speech anxiety becomes apparent immediately whether you want it or not.
But why does it happen? Why do we have a fear of public speaking?
All the fear around giving a speech comes from whether you’ll bomb it and the embarrassment that follows.
What if I mess up? What if they don’t like what I have to say? And what if I forget what to say?
Since we are social beings, we are unconsciously looking for signs of acceptance or rejection.
You aren’t afraid of public speaking, you’re afraid of failure and embarrassment.
Failure means rejection, unwanted, and unloved.
The more eyes, the more witnesses to your perceived anticipated failure.
As long as you focus on yourself, you’ll continue to think in these patterns.
Let off the pressure on yourself, it’s not all about you.
It’s About the Message
Focus is like a flashlight in a dark room. You are either focused on two modes: fear or love.
So instead of focusing on yourself, focus on getting the message across and your fear will be gone.
Point it on the message, not the fear of screwing up.
You have something to say. The message itself is important.
Love the message, love the OPPORTUNITY to impart this message, and show the audience your love by doing the best job you can to impart this important message.
Why? Because you are on a mission.
If you are on a mission, you will do the best you can. Your focus is on the excitement in transmitting that message instead of focusing on screwing up.
So ask yourself, “Why is your message important?”
Once you understand how important it is to give this speech, you’ll naturally have greater confidence and comfort in your voice.
The desire to voice our mission is greater than the fear of our own death.
What I learned About Failure
I was in a room of about 300 people in professional attire. I was the last person who walked in late and the last thing I was prepared to do was give a short speech. I had to come up with something on the spot. When they handed me the mic, all 300 eyes were on me.
How did it went? While everyone talked in fast-pace with their memorized and prepared speech, I stumbled over my words and I was probably the slowest speaker there. But I learned something special during that failed speech.
No one cares.
I wasn’t a laughing stock. No one were secretly judging me. They are like me – worried about themselves than others.
Was I embarrassed? Yes.
But after realizing that I didn’t die, I moved on to listening to other people performing their speech. Embarrassments don’t last. It only makes me stronger.
When you experience a painful embarrassment and found out that it didn’t kill you, that is the greatest feeling of all.
Because at the end of the day, we are all human and our mistakes don’t define who we are. So I learned to embrace those failures and even laugh about it.
Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. It’s only human to fail.
So go ahead and give permission for yourself to not be perfect, to make mistakes and correct them next time.
You can be confident even if you couldn’t make a perfect speech or you stumble over your words because people remember your successes more than they do with your failures.
Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
Practice within when you are without.
To overcome your fear of public speaking is to be comfortable with public speaking.
And the way to do that is to practice it over and over again.
See yourself speaking to an audience in your mind. Visualize yourself standing in a room of people ready to listen to you. You don’t have to know what you are saying, but you can be sure to notice how confident and assured you feel as you are talking.
How confident is your posture? How is your voice? Your body language? What clothes are you wearing?
Imagine the audience listening intently to your every word because you have an important message to give. They are enjoying your speech. The audience can feel your passion and that translates into goosebumps in their bodies.
Now as I do this, sometimes the shaking still happens at the beginning. But don’t you worry.
This doesn’t mean that you are anxious and scared. It means that you are excited and can’t wait to share. Soon you will be more and more comfortable in your skin and you can deliver a magnificent speech.
Like baseball players, you practice your public speaking in your mind long before you enter the real event. And because you practiced it so many times, you can rest assure that you no longer fear public speaking.