Even if you’re a seasoned public speaker it can be nerve-wracking to deliver a business presentation.
Trying to remain confident, and remember your lines, in front of a group of people can rough.
All those sets of eyes, staring at you, waiting for you to speak, expecting to you to know your stuff…
So, how to get over fear of public speaking?
There are 3 very simple tricks to get over your fear.
1. The audience is on your side
The first trick involves visualization, but not the kind of visualization you usually hear about.
Most often, when confronted by a challenge we are told to visualize our success: Just visualize yourself doing a confident speech, and the audience being engaged throughout. Imagine the audience giving you a standing ovation at the end.
Trouble with this kind of visualization is, it’s a bit hit and miss. We start to visualize our success, but inevitably the fear creeps in. We trying hard to think about winning, but there’s that nagging voice in the back of our minds asking questions. We consciously think “Success, success, success”, but our subconscious sits in the background asking the doubting questions, “Really? But what if…?”
We gain a little bit of confidence which eventually gets downed out by the doubting questions.
Let’s visualize with a different approach. Instead of visualizing your success, put yourself in the position of an audience member. It’s Friday afternoon. You’ve just come back from your lunch break and you’re off to conference room 16 to hear a speech about the Benson Project.
How do you feel?
Most likely, you’re tired. Feeling like you’d rather do anything than sit through another boring business presentation. Remembering all the other terrible talks you had to attend with terribly nervous speakers, fumbling around, not really understanding their topic. You’re hoping that this speech will be different. You’re hoping that the this speaker succeeds. If this speaker succeeds it will make your job, as an audience member, much easier.
Pay attention to the sentences I’ve outlined in bold. This is what most audience members hope for. Audience members are on your side. They want you to do a great speech because their part, listening, improves dramatically.
Understand that the audience doesn’t want you to fail. The audience is not evaluating you and trying to find holes in what you are saying. The audience wants you to succeed so they can get the information they need and get back to work, they can be enlightened, they can be entertained.
2. Know your stuff
There is nothing quite as nerve-wracking as trying to look like an expert while you talk about a topic you don’t understand.
A sure-fire way to calm your nerves before and during your speech is to have a deep understanding of your topic. Not just the information you’re going to deliver, but all the ins and outs (or as much as possible). That way you can’t get stumped. Even if you forget your exact lines/message you’re still going to remember the foundational topic.
3. Plan to remember
I advise against writing out a script.
A script is a “plan-to-fail” device. This is because writing out a script assumes that with “x” amount of practice you’re going to be able to remember everything. But ask yourself, with the amount of work (outside of your speech) you need to do on a daily basis, is remembering a 15 – 30 minute speech practical? (or even possible?)
Instead of writing out a script I recommend planning out the three main points you want to talk about. Abbreviate each of these points down to one keyword. With only a total of three keywords to remember, coupled with knowing your topic deeply, you’ll deliver a natural, well-spoken speech or presentation.
How to get over fear of public speaking? Remember the above simple tricks.
Further reading: Overcome Stage Fright With 1 Simple Trick