The comic Jerry Seinfied once said ‘According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death… This means, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.’
I know many of my clients struggle with stage fright. Why are we so afraid of standing up and speaking in public?
I have a rather unorthodox theory. Basically it boils down to us being afraid of the audience. And one reason we’re afraid of the audience is energy. The energy from the audience is scanning you… analysing your tone, body language, clothes and words.
When you step up to the podium, dozens or hundreds of pairs of eyes focus on you. All the energy behind those eyes hits you at once. If you’re not used to this intense scrutiny, it can put you off your stride.
So how do you overcome this suddenly energy jolt?
Here are my tips for anyone who suffers stage fright when speaking in public:
- Take a deep breath. Walk slowly up to the lectern. Put your papers down, if you have any.
- Pause. Look at the audience. Don’t say a word.
- Let yourself feel that energy coming from them. Settle your own energy field.
Then begin to speak. Better to have a few seconds of silence than a painful start to your presentation that you, and your audience, will never forget.
As you speak, keep your energy field tuned to the audience. Use your intuition to read the audience. You’ll be able to sense when the audience is with you and when their attention is slipping. Adjust your presentation as you go along to keep them engaged and ensure they get your message.
The wonderful thing about the TalkitOut™ technique I teach in my presentation skills training is that it either gets rid of your nerves totally – or at the very least settles you down so you can do a great job.
That’s because TalkitOut™ taps into the authentic you. When you’re being yourself, you’re less nervous, less prone to stage fright. It’s when you try to be someone else that you get anxious.
If you try to be someone other than yourself, your presentations won’t ring true. The audience will sense something’s not right. You’ll be making more work for yourself.