I know exactly how you feel.
What if they laugh at you?
What if they don’t listen to you?
What if they ask you tough questions?
In this post I will reveal the simple two part sentence that will cure your anxiety about public speaking. This sentence took me a long time to discover. After many failures, with much trial and error, it finally all made sense.
First, let me reiterate: I have been exactly where you are now. I know that loss of sleep in the lead-up to the big day. I know that feeling of dread as you’re about to go on stage. I know the shortness of breath and dry-mouth as you try remember what to say. I know that feeling of panic when you realize you are being judged.
I tried everything.
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I wrote out my speech and practiced ’til I was blue in the face. Fail.
I planned out every section of my talk in a giant flowchart I held in front of me on stage. Fail.
I wrote my key points out on cue cards I clasped tightly, squeezing the life out of them. Fail.
I planned out my talk using PowerPoint so I could just look at the screen and follow the bullets. Fail.
With many failed talks under my belt, and hundreds more on the horizon, I was battle-scarred and weak.
With each failure, I slowly came to a realization. Something that became so clear it changed my presentation style forever. Something that can be boiled-down to one simple sentence:
It’s a conversation and the audience is on your side.
The audience does not want to be talked at. They want to be talked with.
If the next person you meet socially talks “at” you, you likely won’t want to see them again.
The same conventions that work in regular social situations work on stage:
- The audience want to be talked with
- The audience want to be interacted with
- The audience want to feel you actually want to be there in that conversation with them
- Slip-ups, mistakes, forgot something? All a part of regular communication
The audience is on your side
It is understandable to feel like the audience is judging you when you’re on stage.
But it’s important to understand they actually never are.
The audience does not want you to fail. The audience wants to see you succeed. The audience is on your side.
How do I know this?
Because if you fail it is not only uncomfortable for you, it is uncomfortable for the audience too.
Just like you, the audience wants to feel comfortable, so the audience is there to support you, not judge you.