The reasons for fear of public speaking vary from simple stage fright to underlying psychological issues. Whatever the source of the problem, rather than suffer, it’s best to pro-actively counter it, whether by seeing a professional to help you overcome the fear or tackle the problem yourself by taking initiative. One way to temper anxiety over an upcoming speaking engagement is to stop worrying and start doing.
The moment you begin actually preparing for your speech, your focus shifts from obsessive dread of the event to thinking about the content and what information you need to gather to develop the speech.
The first step is think about your audience. How much do they know about your topic? What are their beliefs? Imagine you are sitting in the audience and the questions you would have about the subject matter. With this mindset, you can begin research to get the answers to the questions and insightful information that needs to go into your presentation. As you dig deeper into the subject, thinking will shift from thoughts of fear to what you are learning and which ideas you want to share with your audience.
Armed with information about your topic, start developing an outline. Throughout the process, think about your audience and craft your message to exceed their expectations. This may seem obvious, but somehow it’s often neglected because we are so caught up in our anxiety. Your task is not just to come across as knowledgeable and engaging, but also to captivate your audience. After all, they are giving you their time.
You want to learn how to structure a speech, including opening with a joke or anecdote, introducing the topic and explaining why it matters, providing three examples or aspects of the topic that are worthy of discussion, and so on. As with research, your focus on writing your speech from the framework of a well-thought-out outline will ease your anxiety because your mind can be constructively engaged in the creative process rather than on fear of speaking.
Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous quote from Self-Reliance: “It’s not the Destination, It’s the journey.” This applies to the journey of public speaking preparation. Focus on writing a wonderful speech rather than get nervous about the public speaking event itself. The destination in this case is your opportunity to gather the most entertaining and compelling information you can find so you can share with people all that you have learned. When you get to the destination, standing before your audience, you will have a product that you can be proud of. You won’t be ‘winging it’, but rather strategically controlling the outcome and as a result reducing your anxiety.
Content is key. Your speech or performance must have substance or be uniquely entertaining. The golden rule applies here: treat each person in the audience as you would want them to treat you. When the time comes to deliver that speech, you will have the confidence of substance and knowledge guiding you to success.
If you are having difficulty managing your anxiety and creating good content Contact Us and we can help you work through the issues that may be getting in the way of overcoming your fear of public speaking.