I still remember while being in 10th standard and getting a chance to deliver speech in a contest. It was exciting as public speaking was one of those things that always fascinated me. But contrary, I was nervous too….well would say scared. With this mix bag of emotions I started my preparation. It included practicing lines numerous times in front of mirror, in shower, on dinning table and I’d taken 2 days leave from regular school classes. I thought cramming will help me to overcome fear of public speaking and to deliver a great speech.
On speech day something happened that changed my whole perception about public speaking. While entering the hall with packed audience, for the first time fear of public speaking hit me. Participant who were more experienced delivered top class speech. This increased tension in my nerves. When my turn came, feet froze and mic felt like a heavy dumbbell. I forgot lines, my voice was shaking, was blanked most of the time and at the end couldn’t counter the questions asked.
This was an eye opening experience! and on that day I decided to overcome my fear of public speaking. After the incident, I improved and delivered many speeches in university, public platforms, team meetings and debates. Let me share you the secret of this revolutionary change. And how I managed to improve my public speaking being a novice.
Rule 1) – Know the “Why” to overcome public speaking anxiety
One common mistake we all do is “Cramming”. Forcing ourselves to memorize whole content word by word. But this technique would eventually leave you mid way on a battle field. Remember, your mind is already in panic while facing the crowd. And you surely don’t want to add extra burden of memorization. Mark my words, defeat of public speaking anxiety begins when you decide to stop cramming things.
Remember the childhood days when we used to convince our parents for a video game..
How many times we took stand for stuffs in every little brawl with siblings..
I am sure you must have told your best friend how important he/she is for you..
You can see, in all these cases content was there but your aim was “impact”. One never needs to memorize words while convincing, arguing or showing emotions. All that matters, is to make an impact. Public speaking is no different, the goal should be to make an impact rather than delivering content.
To overcome fear of public speaking focus on “Why”. If you know “Why” you are there on stage and its importance, the words will flow flawless. If you understand the importance of the topic, there would be a natural urge to make an impact. One speech can change hundred lives so you can’t afford to simply cram those powerful words. Believe that your words of wisdom are well above your fear of public speaking.
Rule 2) – Being judged is not bad
Most of us has this hidden fear “of being judged”. Instead of overcoming this fear of public speaking we generally fall more deeper in the trap. There is a misconception that being judged will make us inferior and less acceptable. And Suddenly, the audience look like goons with guns and ready to shoot.
David Goggins once said
“Most people who are criticizing and judging haven’t even tried what you failed at.”
You have to accept the fact that audience will judge you. This could be when you forget some lines, may be because of your voice quality , you posture, your content, it could be anything. We need to accept ourselves in order to take our mind away from all these distracting things. Nobody is perfect, so the one word you should remember is ” It’s OK”.
It’s OK if my voice shakes a bit.
Oops, I miss some points.
Oh! my voice quality isn’t amusing.
Neah.. I don’t look stylish.
“But It’s OK” and “I still love myself” , “I accept myself”.
Remember it’s not the mistake that panic us but our reaction do. So, keep in mind you are unique and you don’t need to be perfect. You can overcome fear of public speaking by accepting the little criticism it brings. Soon it would reward you with lot of appreciation. Contrarily you need to work constantly to improve your personality.
Rule 3) – Stop scanning to Control fear of public speaking
Trying to scan the whole auditorium while giving our speech could be distracting. This is the worst mistake you can do while giving a speech. In fact, a good speaker knows how to identify a particular group who is actually interested and is carefully listening to his speech.
Most of us have seen teachers giving lectures in class. While giving a lecture, a teacher identifies group of attentive students and make an eye contact with them. Using this technique a speaker can easily concentrate on the content without any distraction. This mantra of public speaking minimizes the panic and help to conquer public speaking anxiety.
My advice is to identify at least one attentive face from both corners of the auditorium. With experience, you may not need even that one face and can deliver the whole speech without any distraction.
P.S – In my case I chose an empty chair to concentrate but glad it did worked.
You will get various articles on how to prepare a speech but my this article is for emerging speakers. The above 3 rules will surely calm you down while on stage and to overcome fear of public speaking. Public speaking will change your life dramatically and will boost your confidence. You see, this is the reward you will get along with recognition but you have to at least “try”. Welcome to the new world of confidence, recognition and lifestyle and I am sure you first public speech would be a big turning point in your life.