Not everyone is born an orator like Marcus Tullius Cicero!
But you can excel in your public speaking if you overcome your fears of facing the crowd. That’s not hard, although it is for most.
Yes! Public speaking can give you a serious nervous breakdown or send you off on panic-attack seizures. It can give you your worst nightmares!
But if you focus on what exactly scares you most, maybe you can get rid of all those fears and uncertainties.
Most of us fear speaking up in front of a big audience because we fear their watchful eyes and heart-piercing criticisms. But, let’s face it – people will always judge! So, even if you are confident of what you are saying on stage, there will always be someone in the audience ready to shake your nerves with their sarcastic remarks.
That’s okay! It’s good to hear such criticisms because those cruel words will help you to improve your speaking skills if you don’t allow those words to break you down.
And, no one is condemning you for having a chicken heart.
As an entrepreneur of your own business, you might have to get into the habit of doing many stage shows and public speaking. For example, Steve Jobs or Mark Zukerberg. Have you ever watched them speaking in public?
The Apple events used to have Steve Jobs taking the audience by storm with his impactful choice of words. However, he did have a hold over his audience. The confidence and enthusiasm that he exhibited during those events were highly infectious.
Do you think he became an orator overnight? Do you think he never faced nervousness the first time he went up on that podium?
Of course, he did (though we might not know for sure)! But he is a human, just like us!
So just like them, you can also master the art of public speaking. But, first, you need to practice and develop self-confidence.
Here are a few easy tricks to help you fight your fears of public speaking successfully!
#Trick 1: Practice Speaking While Facing the Mirror
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Familiar with this verse? Yes! This is a quotation from the famous fairy tale – Cinderella.
Here, the mirror knows everything! And, the same mirror can show you the truth! Not just how fair you are (though we are not concerned about that), but it can also reflect your skills as a speaker.
It works great!
Just stand in front of the mirror and practice delivering your speech by looking straight back into your eyes (eyes of your reflection, of course!). That reflection of yours will hit your conscious just like the audience would during the live event. And, if you can successfully finish your speech staring back at your image without fumbling, you are ready!
Do not think it is easy! It’s not, actually.
#Trick2: Stop Thinking About Yourself
Yeah! That’s easy to say but not too easy to practice.
When we step into that podium to face the crowd, we feel naked and exposed. So we look for ways to avert the eyes of the onlookers. We avoid making eye contact and focus hard on our notes or the slides.
Those gestures might help you to overcome your speaking anxiety momentarily. But it reflects poorly on you as a speaker. Your audience will see you are extremely nervous.
Also, avoiding eye contact with your audience will break the connection with them. As a result, they will lose interest in your presentation eventually.
Averting their gazes might seem like an easy way out. But it doesn’t help much in reality.
Instead, it would help if you stopped thinking about yourself. You need to switch off that panic button inside your head and stop worrying about whether or not you will mess up the entire event.
Because if you keep thinking along those lines, you will mess up things big time!
So, focus on your audience instead. Focus on helping your audience. Focus on having a conversation with them. Focus on engaging your spectators with what you are presenting.
Make the speech interactive by asking questions now and then. Add zest to your speech to make them laugh and lighten up the heavy mood. That helps a lot!
#Trick 3: Tell Your Brain to Shut Up!
No, not seriously – that can be problematic for you, of course.
What we meant here is that you need to focus your attention on the audience, as mentioned in the earlier point.
Before you show up on that stage, your brain is already working itself up by infusing fearful thoughts. But, unfortunately, it is infusing self-doubt at the same time!
So you need to tell your brain to shut up!
Remind yourself that this presentation is not about yourself but about how the presentation will help the audience.
Start by asking your audience questions about their problems – problems that your presentation will solve. This will help you to break the ice and ease your nerves. The moment you start conversing with your audience in an easy tone, your fear will dissipate.
You will get the flow and will eventually go through the slides without even breaking eye contact.
The bottomline is…
You can never master the art of public speaking by reading an entire library of books written on them. No! Likewise, you never learn how to speak publicly without fear from your home tutor.
Yes! You can pick a few helpful points while observing others delivering their speeches. But the moment you step into their shoes, all those points will disappear into oblivion. So the best way to conquer your stage fears is by practising a lot.
Practice in front of the mirror or practice in front of your friends. Ask the latter to hone the character of harsh critics and give you their honest opinions. Then, practice your strong skills and rectify your mistakes.
The more you appear in public forums to speak, the more skilled you will become in public speaking over the years.
It is like getting your calculations correct through practice! Or developing your defence skills in soccer matches.
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