Speaking for success: A guide to how you can overcome fear of public speaking
Published: 22 May 2015
I used to dread speaking in public. I severely lacked confidence in the importance of my voice and opinion early in my career and it was not until I worked with a coach to develop my own confidence did my fear of public speaking lessen.
Having faith that your viewpoint and experience will help at least one person in the room is enough to provide you with the initial confidence to put your viewpoint across.
Based on my experience within organisations and with my clients I have devised four key tips to help you overcome any fears you may have of public speaking.
Planning the main points you want to cover in your meeting, talk or workshop is crucial to a successful outcome. Having a clear purpose and objectives that you want your audience to achieve is a great way to start.
• Why are you part of the meeting?
• Who are your audience?
• What value will you bring to your audience?
• What key message do you want each delegate to leave with?
• What anecdotes and experience will you share to bring your topic to life and keep the audience engaged?
• Do you need any visual aids or AV? (In my experience less is more – we have all experienced death by PowerPoint).
• Where is your venue located?
• Final preparation for me would be arriving in plenty of time to ensure that you are set up well ahead of time.
FOCUSING ON YOUR STATE
Fundamental to speaking confidently is your physical state.
You will have experienced a speaker or colleague who looks nervous before starting to speak never mind whilst they shuffle about their notes or use the same buzz words over and over.
We have all been there, but taking 10 minutes to compose yourself, get your head around how you will open your talk or part of the meeting and to centre yourself is the most crucial part of any presentation you will give.
If you are feeling overwhelmed a few things that have worked for me:
• Watching short motivational videos (contact me if you would like some specific links to some fabulous ones I use)
• A pep talk from a loved one
• Positive self talk
• Visualising the outcome you want to achieve
• Listening to some of your favourite music
HANDLING CHALLENGES & QUESTIONS
Ask yourself the question: What is the worst that can happen?
You may get a tricky question or someone who is not engaged, but that’s part of speaking in public or being part of meetings and don’t let that put you off.
Any questions and challenges show engagement. Having a way to handle people who are being obstructive is a great means of preparation.
The below questions work well in trying to get to the root of an issue if someone is constantly interrupting or being obstructive.
• Would you like me to explain something further?
• Is everything ok?
Also, remembering if you are asked something you are unsure of all you need to respond with is that you will find out for the individual and get back to them after the event. This is much more confident than waffling through an answer you are unsure is factual.
The best presenters and public speakers bring their personality into everything they do.
Don’t feel like you have to talk like someone else you have seen, you will have most impact when you are yourself and speak with passion.
Don’t feel like you have to be serious in your talk, bringing humour and fun will engage the audience.
Similarly, don’t feel like you have to be a comedian to make an impact, simply being you is more than good enough.
You have been asked to be part of a meeting, lead a talk or facilitate a workshop so others have already given you the credibility and authority in a specific area, all you need to do is recognise that you can and will add value, speak with confidence and get feedback post event.
Every time you speak in public you will improve and become more confident.
I would be delighted to share some more of my experience of public speaking. It can be fun.
If you would like to discuss more please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org