Is your fear of public speaking holding you back? Nerves and anxiety about talking in public shouldn’t be stopping you from networking like a pro, or getting a room full of people to take notice of your product, service, or cause.
I’ve had so many responses to my 10 Golden Rules of Public Speaking download that, in this blog post, I go into more detail about rules 1, 2 and 10:
- Be prepared
- Know your purpose
- Be aware of and sensitive to the needs of your audience
Understanding and adopting these 3 rules is vitally important to overcoming your fear of public speaking. So keep reading to take some positive steps towards becoming a more effective and confident public speaker…
Why your fear of public speaking exists
Fear and anxiety are there to protect you. For most of us, speaking to large groups of people is not the norm for our daily interactions, which are usually one on one. A large proportion of public speaking anxiety comes from a fear of the unfamiliar.
We have evolved as humans to proceed with caution in unfamiliar situations. They pose a potential risk of doing us harm. If we’ve done something before, many times, we know what to expect. If there are threats, we know what they are and are able to respond accordingly. So we fear them less.
Don’t allow your fear to stop you from venturing into the unknown. You might find, contrary to your fears, that you’re able to handle it better than you think. Perhaps you even enjoy it!
It’s ok to feel nerves. I still do! But my nerves are manageable and they add energy and vibrancy to my presentations. All consuming nervousness, however, is not serving you.
So what do you need to do? Absorb the rules below and incorporate them into your speaking. Whether you’re talking to a colleague or yourself in the mirror, the key to ditching your fear of public speaking is PRACTICE. Because the more you practice, the more familiar with the situation you will become.
1. Be prepared
This is the first and probably most important rule of public speaking and effective communication as a whole. You need to know who you’re talking to and why. What value are you going to bring to this conversation? (Use our free buyer persona worksheet to understand your audience.)
If you’re prepared, you’ll immediately feel more confident because you will have addressed part of your fear of the unfamiliar. You’ll be able to answer questions on your subject matter if asked. And you can follow a basic outline or framework to your subject matter, so you don’t miss any key points.
Whether it’s sitting around a boardroom table, networking at an event, or presenting on a stage to a room full of people, preparation beforehand will help you to dispel those fears.
2. Know your purpose
Simon Sinek talks about the importance of knowing your “why” – why does your product or business exist. This is what you should communicate to your potential buyers.
Take the same approach when you go into business conversations, presentations, or meetings. Bring purpose with you when you speak. It will lend you authority, which will also serve to calm the nerves.
Your “why” may also develop into a story. Tell your audience this story to get them to relate to you and engage more with your message.
10. Be aware of and sensitive to the needs of your audience
Another super important one. Presenting should be a 2 way interaction, regardless of how many you’re presenting to, or whether you’re the one doing all the talking. Be aware of your listeners’ needs. If you’re disengaged from them, they’re likely to be disengaged from you.
Effective communication involves listening skills. Yes, when you’re standing on a stage, your listening skills might be more limited. But you can listen with more than just your ears. Use your eyes and other senses to gauge the mood of the room.
Pay close attention to your audience and they’re more likely to pay attention to you.
***FINALLY: To keep your fear of public speaking at bay, print out and display the 10 Golden Rules of Public Speaking in your office. (Click on the banner below to access the file.) It will serve as a constant reminder that you CAN excel at effective communication – just follow the rules, practice and believe in yourself.
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