Today, I would like to share some information about “How to find our confidence during public speaking”.
Did you know that public speaking tops the list of phobias for most people? Not spiders or heights – public speaking – speech in public!
Well, if you didn’t know that, we bet your body does. It will do all kinds of unpleasant things to you when you have to stand up and face a sea of faces with the hope of getting your message across in a compelling and interesting way.
Your hands may sweat and your mouth goes dry. Your knees may shake and a quaver affects your voice. Your heart may race and those well known butterflies invade your stomach.
When all that happens most people don’t think of getting their message across in a compelling and interesting way; they just think of getting off the ‘stage’ as quickly as possible!
Have we frightened you sufficiently yet?
We don’t really mean to frighten you, just remind you that your body reacts ‘in extremis’ when put under pressure, and for most people, public speaking is just about the worst pressure they can be put under.
It’s normal to be nervous and have a lot of anxiety when speaking in public. In a way, it’s less normal not to have nerves or anxiety; in fact, to feel you have a phobia about public speaking.
Why do we get Public Speaking anxiety?
Fight or flight
Our bodies are geared to fight or flight from ancient time – fight that mastodon or get the hell out of the way. We don’t have too many mastodons around these days, but the body still reacts as though we do. So, if we have to get up and speak in public, all that adrenalin and noradrenalin goes coursing through our bodies – way more than we need.
We can’t run away (well, we could, but we’d be out of job pretty quick if we did it too often), so our only option is to fight. But in terms of speaking in public, it can be hard to define just what we’re fighting.
Why does public speaking do this to us?
Good question. You’d think that for most people, being given the opportunity to impress their audience would be a fantastic one. There you are in front of a group of people, the spotlight is on you and for the length of time you’ve been give, the world is yours.
Or is it?
The very fact that the spotlight is you is enough to trigger every fear, anxiety and phobia you’ve ever had about public speaking.
- You may be judged by all those people, and judged badly
- You may feel like a fool
- You might make mistakes and lose your way
- You’ll be completely humiliated
- You’ll never be as good as _________ (fill in the blank)
- ‘They’ won’t like you
- ‘They’ won’t ‘get’ what you’re trying to say
How to overcome fear of Public Speaking
What good are Nerves
Public speaking may not be comfortable, but take our word for it, nerves are good. Being ‘centre stage’ is not a good place to feel too comfortable.
Nerves will keep you awake and ensure you don’t get too complacent. Hard to feel complacent when your heart is beating so hard you’re sure everyone watching you can hear it.
If channel led well, nerves can make the difference between giving a humdrum presentation and giving one that keeps people listening.
Get your attention off yourself
It’s very tempting to keep focused on how you’re feeling, especially if you’re feeling really uncomfortable. You’ll start to notice every bead of sweat.
To make your nerves work for you, you need to focus on just about anything other than yourself. You can distract yourself by paying attention to the environment in which you’re speaking and seeing how you can make it work for you.
Once you’re actually in front of your audience, pay attention to them. If you can, notice how people are dressed, who’s wearing glasses, who has on bright colours. There will be dozens and dozens of things you can pay attention to help you trick your mind into not noticing what’s going on with you.
How to build confidence in Public Speaking
Your audience can be your friend
Unless you know you’re absolutely facing a hostile group of people, human nature is such that your audience wants you succeed. They’re on your side!
Therefore, rather than assuming they don’t like you, give them the benefit of the doubt that they do.
They aren’t an anonymous sea of faces, but real people. So to help you gain more confidence when speaking in public, think of ways to engage your audience. Remember, even if they aren’t speaking, you can still have a two-way conversation.
When you make an important point pay attention to the people who are nodding in agreement and the ones who are frowning in disagreement. As long as you are creating a reaction in your audience you are in charge.
Keep them awake
The one thing you don’t want is for them to fall asleep! But make no mistake public speaking arenas are designed to do just that: dim lights, cushy chairs, not having to open their mouths – a perfect invitation to catch up on those zzzzs.
Ways to keep them awake include
- Ask rhetorical questions
- Maintain eye contact for a second or two with as many people as possible
- Be provocative
- Be challenging
- Change the pace of your delivery
- Change the volume of your voice