Don’t Let Fear of Public Speaking Derail You
Getting up in front of a group of people to make a case, pitch a product or tell a story is an ideal opportunity to make an impression. Take advantage of it whenever you get the chance. If you’re a small business owners seeking to make your mark, it’s a great way to spread your message to a number of people at the same time.
Even with all the presentation tips at your disposal, however, you may be reluctant. Psychologists agree that public speaking is the second most common fear among adults — coming in a close second only to the fear of death. Like every effective marketing tool, it takes work, planning and gumption to do it successfully. But it’s worth it, so don’t pass up a chance to speak.
Why Is It So Hard?
The most common reason for the devastating (and paralyzing) fear boils down to a set of mostly illogical and unfounded fears:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of embarrassment
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of rejection
For many, the fear of public speaking wraps itself up in the number one fear, leading to the idea that you might get up in front of the group and actually die! But don’t worry: “death by public speaking” is not a thing. You can conquer your fears by following presentation tips from your friends at Ray Access. Effective presentation tips tackle the physical, emotional and mental aspects of your fear.
Try It, You Just Might Like It!
Once you start reaping the rewards of making a rousing speech and getting positive feedback, you probably won’t be able to shut up. No one says overcoming fear is easy, but it is truly possible. Here’s how:
- Acknowledge your fear. Accept the fact that you’re going to be nervous; it’s actually a good thing. Instead of forcing yourself to overcome it or feeling shameful about it, tell yourself that you’re nervous because you care.
- Give it appropriate billing. In the grand scheme of life (and your business), how important is it that you follow all the presentation tips to make a solid gold speech? Compared to losing your leg? To going hungry? To losing your home? Maybe not so much. Put your speech in perspective.
- Get real. There’s very little chance that you can please everyone all the time — no matter who you are and how well you speak. Give up the notion that you have to please everyone and focus on the few who really matter.
- Write it down. You shouldn’t necessarily read your presentation, but having it written down — in a font large enough to glance at — serves as a great backup in case you do freeze. As a former speech writer, I know that even the best presenters use written notes (and usually have the entire presentation written word for word).
- Practice. Stand in front of the mirror and read your presentation. Get your family or friends to agree to give you feedback you can use. Or record yourself and watch the video to see how you might improve.
- Breathe normally. Holding your breath, hyperventilating or taking shallow breaths increase the physical side effects of your nervousness. One of the most helpful (and powerful) presentation tips is to remember to take a deep breath before you go on and notice your breath as your speak. The psychiatrist Fritz Perls says: “Fear is excitement without the breath.”
- Visualize yourself speaking. See yourself standing erect, smiling, pausing at all the right junctures and engaging your audience. Visualization works for everyone from star athletes to CEOs; it can work for you.
- Think about your audience. Presentations aren’t about you. Remember that you’re giving this speech to help people solve a problem, find a better solution and hire the best in town. Your speech is for your audience, right? When it’s all about them, your feelings don’t matter as much anymore.
- Play it through. Imagine that you’ve finished; what’s the worst thing that could happen? Even if you made mistakes, so what? You’re not giving a speech in front of a group armed with stones (or spare shoes). When you realize that nothing dangerous can occur, you’ll relax. Consider how you’d treat a colleague who bombed. Worse case, you’re not asked back. Best case? Endless opportunity.
- Embrace it. With practice, your nervousness becomes an integral part of your preparation. You understand that once you start talking, you’ll be fine. After a few tries, you’ll realize you aren’t going to die up there. In fact, you actually may make some sales — as well as good connections — from the opportunity. Aren’t you glad you persevered?
- Bonus tip. Don’t do it by yourself. Bring along a coworker, colleague or employee. There’s no law that says presentations have to be given by one and only one person. Share the love, and it’s easier for both of you. Presentation tips don’t get easier than this one.