Breakout in a cold sweat when asked to speak in front of a group? Wished you could just die instead of getting up in front of an audience? Have you noticed the person in front of the dry erase board is making most of the money? I’ll show you a way to completely overcome that fear and give a good presentation. Your boss will love you. You’ll connect with your customers better and you’ll be a better leader. Heck, your kids will even be amazed!
If you’ve ever encountered these feelings of fear of having to talk in front of an audience you are not alone. It’s one of the top things EVERYONE fears doing!
Have you ever seen a great speaker and recognized how almost magically you were connected to that individual? They seemed to almost be speaking to you. Years later you even remember their message. How do you think they were able to do that?
Great public speakers are not born. Great public speakers are made. It’s a skill that has to be practiced, practiced and practiced. It takes practice and feed back to get rid of the pauses of “you know”, “ummmmm” and the dreaded “aaaaaand” and “so” that show up in almost every sentence. Notice how President Obama without his teleprompter looks very uncomfortable and uses these words a lot. He, like so many fearful public speakers, depend on a “written” speech that they just read.
Hey, you said it was going to be a breeze! WTH. Working long and hard at being a great public speaker is not what I had in mind when you said the word “breeze!”
Okay, being great is one thing. Public speaking in general is another. As a leader you’ll need to lead. You’ll need to guide the troops into battle. Let’s explore some concepts that will help make your speaking engagement a breeze.
Making Public Speaking a Breeze
- Be Yourself. The great speakers that you connect to are just being who they really are. They aren’t trying to woo you into loving them and thinking they are these great people. They are comfortable being themselves. They are authentic. When you can be authentic and trust being vulnerable you’ll naturally connect. It will be like you’re having a personal conversation with a trusted friend who you know is not out to judge you. Your audience isn’t out to judge you either. They are in the audience to be taught. They are there to hear your authentic message. If you are suffering from some deep shame or guilt in your life and are not comfortable sharing yourself with others, i.e., not really being authentic, you’ll have a more difficult time connecting to your audience or anyone for that matter.
- Slow Down to Speed Up. The best talks and speeches are given from the heart. They are best not read from a written text. You’ll be wise to prepare your message as a written text and even practice giving it several times before hand. But when actually giving your message do so without the complete written text in front of you and it will then be from your heart as you give it. This is where slowing down at the beginning is important. It will allow you to get control of your breathing. Almost like an athlete who is warming up for a game. They start out slow to get their muscles limbered up and mind ready to compete. As you start your message look into the specific eyes of your audience and just feel of them. Listen to what they are telling you. Their eyes and facial expression will tell you how and what to say and if you are slow enough to understand them, you’ll connect and deliver your message in a powerful and meaningful way. Go slow and allow the next thing to enter your mind. This will help you with your transitions and you won’t have to depend on the killer, “you know”, interrupting “ummmms” and long “annnnnds” and dreaded slow “soooooo’s”. After you get going you’ll naturally pick up the speed that your audience will appreciate.
- It’s Okay Not To Know. What do I mean by that? As you speak you are sharing what you know. It’s very possible that some members of your audience know the material better. As you speak from your heart, it’s fine to tell your audience that you’re just like them, on a journey to master life. By showing your humility and being vulnerable your audience will connect and listen. They will not judge you either. They will understand and appreciate that they are not up there in front of everyone. Yes, you’ll have to expect some unfair criticism. Keep in mind their criticism is more about them than you. With compassion you’ll accept yourself for who you really are. You’ll accept them too because you don’t know what’s going on in their life.
- Allow the Still Small Voice to Direct Your Words. It’s scary the very first time to speak without any prepared text! Yes, that is a direct contradiction to what I said earlier. If you can prepare the text of the message you want to deliver and yet get in front of the audience and realize they need to hear something completely different, you’ve mastered the art of connection. It’s equivalent to knowing what a child needs to hear to soften their heart or to make them feel better about themselves. Your audience is no different. Even if you have 100s in the audience and you only touch one, your message might change their life. The other 99 just enjoyed your message.
I’ve had the privilege of sharing my knowledge in front of groups for many years. I learned that if I follow these four simple steps and practice them, my message is delivered better. When I learned that the most important part of speaking is being who I really am, it allowed me to connect better and with deeper feeling.
I’m still uneasy before my speeches. I don’t think that will ever go away. But I’m uneasy for the right reason. Before I learned how to be authentic my fear was what most of our fears are, will they hate me and think I’m stupid? Now when I’m uneasy its because I fear not being who I really am.
I attended a Toastmasters group for about 18 months and learned many of the skills of public speaking. I highly recommend for you that if you want to get the basics down of public speaking to join your local Toastmasters group. In this group you’ll have loving audiences that are pulling for you to improve your speaking skills. Click on the link and find a local chapter near you.
Okay, wasn’t that a breeze?!! The most challenging part about public speaking is making sure you are yourself. Being authentic; the daily practice of letting go who you think you should be and embracing who you really are, will be worth all the effort you’ll need to put forth to achieve that. For me it truly is a daily practice. The great part for you, as it was for me, I connect on a deeper level with people including my audiences. Before I became authentic, I struggled to make sure my message was perfect. They were root and uninspiring. Now, they are a breeze, I have major energy giving them, and those in the audience enjoy the message so much more.
Get your kite out! The breeze is strong! Now go tell an audience about it!!!