The number one fear they say after the fear of death is the fear of public speaking. In this article I’ll show you how to get rid of any fear, reservation, or block that holds you back from public speaking. What is keeping you from getting out there and speaking in public?
As a master speaker trainer, I have heard every possible excuse. Most of the time, the excuses are just covering up the real truth–you’re afraid.
Fear shows up in many different ways. It might not show up for you as fear, but it might show up as an excuse for why you are not doing something—like public speaking.
Everything you want is out of your comfort zone or you would already have it.
Today, you’re going to bust through that fear. I’m going to give you specific tools and techniques to get out there and start speaking in public.
You’ll discover how to slowly get rid of the fear or excuses centered on public speaking.
How do you get over your fear? How do you turn that fear into an emotion that will get you fired up, so fired up that it will propel you out of bed in the morning and where you will have to get out there and speak? How do you get to the point that everything in your core is driving you on so that fear is no longer an excuse of many different colors? How do you get from frightened to fired up?
I’ll walk you through my process with the acronym FEAR BUSTERS.
F is for Find What You Are Good At and Speak On That
There are far too many people who speak on things that they know nothing about. People may speak about their business, but sometimes because they also have a side hobby they like to speak at boys’ clubs, the girl scouts, to the homeless, etc., but they’re not that knowledgeable about their subject. They’re really stretching. Sometimes if they stretch too much, too fast, then just like a rubber band they’re pulled back with a snap, then it’s harder to get back out there and stretch again.
When you first start public speaking, it is best to talk about your business and what you know. You can do charity speaking after you’ve given 200 public speeches. I teach my clients to speak at least 200 times before they start worrying about being fancy. Talk about what you know. Get experience under your belt. Collect business cards, build your database, and then, after your 200 speeches, you can begin to sell from the platform and spread out. However, not right away. Keep it simple and talk about what you’re good at.
E is for Enthusiasm
Be enthusiastic! Think about the audience. Tell yourself that you’re excited because of the great value you are going to give your audience. When you’re excited, that fear will be covered up. It might not be gone, but it will be eliminated eventually.
When I first started speaking, I was so scared. People now wonder how that’s possible since I have no fear when I speak, but I’ve been doing this for 30 years. In the beginning, I was scared to death! One time, I was speaking to a group of 200 men and women in the IT business about my company’s software, along with two other speakers. In the 80s, we were the pioneers in the field of information systems and it was revolutionary. We were at this big convention and taking turns talking about our software.
In those days, I thought I could go out, speak and get results because I had two lips. I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I was scared. I wrote everything out word for word. I probably half-memorized it. I came to a point in my speech and completely forgot what I was going to say. I looked up and I must have had fear written all over my face. I looked quickly through pages and pages of my handwritten notes and couldn’t find my place. I had to end my speech quickly, completely humiliated. Later that day, all three of us sat on a panel, and not one person asked me a question. I left that day feeling horrible. It was hard enough to be up there and twice as hard to lose my place.
I decided that I was going to learn how to speak and do it right. It’s like a lot of things in our life that our motivating factor is pain or humiliation — like someone thinks you’re six months pregnant and so you go out and join a gym. That’s what it took for me to go and get help.
Fear can happen to everybody, but it mainly happens because you don’t know what you’re doing. Just know that everybody’s got some sort of fear, about something and it’s always about not knowing and being out of your comfort zone. Enthusiasm will replace fear if you let it.
A is for Authentic
You want to be real. I’m not suggesting that you tell people that you’re scared. Do not do that! It doesn’t help you or your audience. In the beginning, I would regularly go to the Lion’s Club to speak. They were good old boys, who met every week, and as a speaker, I never knew what would happen. One time, I started my speech with “I’m so scared.” I saw the look on everybody’s face, “oh brother!” And then I said, “That’s how many people start their speech.” Then their attitude changed toward me.
I tried this twice because I was just testing the waters, and this was before I started my own system about grabbing people’s attention, and before I learned everything that I’ve learned in the last 25 years.
I saw their reaction. The audience really wants you to succeed. They don’t want to know you’re scared or nervous. The only reason people do that is that you’re trying to get extra concessions or get sympathy, but it doesn’t work. They want a speaker who will teach them something. Give them value. Be authentic, but don’t tell them you’re afraid.
R is for Rehearse
Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse! How many hours should you practice before you speak publicly? My advice is to practice one hour for every two minutes of your speech. That’s preparing your speech and rehearsing it out loud. Don’t write it out and try to read it. That’s not what you want to do. If you saw the movie about Steve Jobs, at the beginning of his career, he was notorious for writing out his speeches and delivering them at the lectern. You can’t do that now. You can’t be authentic and read from a script. You need to speak it out loud.
B is for Be Prepared
Not only do you want to rehearse your speech for 10 hours if it’s a 20-minute speech, but you want to stand, speak out loud, use your body language, or whatever else you’re going to use to be animated during your talk.
Being prepared also means preparing yourself for your speech. Make sure that you consult MapQuest, Google Maps, or Waze and know where you’re going. Prepare whatever bag or briefcase you are taking with your handouts, your giveaway, and a bag to collect business cards, etc. Prepare your clothes ahead of time so that you know what you’re wearing. All these things go into your subconscious mind and it will make you a lot more comfortable for the day. You will know you are ready.
Know where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there. Make sure you get there 30 minutes ahead of time.
Prepare yourself when you get to your speaking engagement. Prepare your speaking stage area. Grab a seat nearest the stage area. Make sure that the person who is going to introduce has practiced your introduction.
All of these things are ways of being prepared. When you’re prepared like that, it will eliminate fear. The more prepared you are, the more fearless you will be at your speaking engagement. Guaranteed! There’s nothing worse than when you wake up in the morning to find that you don’t have the suit you want to wear, or your boots are shined or you can’t find the address. It creates anxiety and that anxiety will affect your performance.
U is for You are the Speech
Your PowerPoint is not the presentation. You are the presentation. Always! You and you alone. You are the speech.
I went to a Chamber meeting and the speaker was the president of a local college. I purposely sat in the front so I could see, be, and experience. I’ll be darned if she didn’t stand down on the floor instead of on the beautiful stage and walked past my table to do her talk. She had her back to me the whole time. That really bummed me out. I got there early and I got my seat so I could observe. My whole table had to cock their head to see her.
Never, ever do that! I know what she was trying to do. She was trying to get cozy with her audience. She didn’t even want to use a microphone. This is so wrong. You are the speaker, the presenter. Make sure people can see and hear you so they don’t miss out. They might be the very people who need to hear your message.
I spoke to a large group at a place that was like a bowling alley. I knew that if I moved around people would not be able to see me. I stayed in a three-foot area and delivered my speech. I used a microphone so they could hear me. The microphone was connected to a cord, which I’m not crazy about, but it’s not about me. It’s about the audience. Rather, it’s about how you can deliver your message so that everyone in the room can hear or see you.
If you can’t see someone’s face, guess what, they can’t see you, either. That’s how you know. So when you move around, you want to get the maximum amount of eyes on you. You are the speech. You’re in charge for at least that hour. You are the show and the star, and at the same time, you are the teacher, the trainer, and the mentor.
S is for Start with an Attention Grabber
No matter how nervous you are, if you come out strong with an attention grabber, like, “How many of you want more clients,” people will not notice your fear. Whatever your attention grabber is, if you send it out to your audience as energy, it will come back as energy. Whether you have them raise their hands or shout something, the amount of energy you send out comes back 100-fold. When they respond, that can put you at ease really fast.
T is for Teach
Remember to teach people what you know. Don’t try to be fancy. Don’t try to be an entertainer or a singer. Just be real, and authentic and teach them what you know. Transfer your knowledge over to them. When you get into your teaching mode, that’s when a lot of speakers are the most comfortable because you know what you know. Remember my first tip: Find out what you’re good at and talk about that. You’re teaching what you already know. You will be comfortable teaching your knowledge.
E is for be Excited
Be excited from the moment you get that speaking engagement until you wake up that morning and jump out of bed. Have it propel you out of bed. Tell yourself how excited you are. “I’m so blessed and excited to get out there in front of people and speak!”
There are some countries where you don’t have the freedom to speak. When I was in Egypt, I saw how women don’t have the right to speak. They had no voice. I saw how they were treated. They mostly hide under their clothes. When they’re in the salon and with other women, they let their hair down and they’re quite lively. It’s amazing to see. Otherwise, on the street, they’re quiet and they’re invisible. We have the freedom of speech in this country, so let’s use it. Let’s use it as often as we can and be excited about it. Use it to propel yourself to do good things and change lives because that’s the gift you have now.
R is for Rare Information
When you speak you want to give your audience information that other people are not giving them. Give them some of your best stuff. I’m sure you have heard others speak about your topic. Let’s say you’re into fitness. A lot of other people talk about fitness. I don’t believe that there is competition because we’re all unique, whole, and complete. There is no competition, but we do have counterparts. Our counterparts, oftentimes just give the broad brushstrokes that everybody’s heard before. Look for what is rare or share a unique point of view. Talk about what others aren’t talking about. That’s how you will stand out from the crowd.
S is for Story
If you want the fear to go away, start telling more stories in your presentation. As your audience relaxes, you will relax. When you relax, you will be able to deliver the presentation with confidence.
There are four stories to use in your presentation: a personal story, a story with a lesson, emotional stories, and success stories. Your personal story lets people get to know you and earns you the right to speak on your topic. Stories with a lesson can be a metaphor; they are subconscious or subliminal messages that you give your audience through a story. Go back and look at Aesop’s fables and see those stories, such as the little boy who cried wolf. It’s a story with a lesson.
When I tell my camel story about my time in Egypt, it’s a story with a lesson, a lesson about trusting the process. In my case, I use it as a metaphor for my speaking system, in other words, if you follow my system and trust me, I’ll lead you to the best thing you ever do. I don’t tell people that’s what the story means.
Did I make the story up to use as a lesson? No. First I had the story, and then I realized there was a lesson in it. I created my own lesson in my mind, so when I tell this story, I tell it from that place, and people are subconsciously hearing the message when I tell the story.
There’s always a purpose for telling the story. There’s always a reason. The reason I tell my experiences is to show you where I was then; where you are now, and what I learned so you can avoid my mistakes. It’s to show you the open manholes I fell in so that you don’t fall into them. They are my lessons that I transfer to you. And you can do the same thing for others. Telling stories is one of the greatest ways to get over what fear you have.
When you implement these FEAR BUSTERS, you will put fear in its place and be successful on the stage.
Before you step on stage, make sure you read and download the 10 questions every speaker must know before they step on stage.