6 Public Speaking Fears and How to Overcome Them

1 to 1 Coaching with John Colley.002

Public Speaking Fears? Is this a problem for you? For most people Public Speaking triggers one emotion above all: Fear!

If you ask anyone why they don’t like Public Speaking, they will tell you that it terrifies them but if you press them it is difficult to get a specific reason or example of what is so scary!  So, time to explode a few public speaking myths!  Let me convince you that you have nothing to be afraid of and you can be a great public speaker.  Here are six Public Speaking Fears and why you don’t need to pay them any attention!

Fear #1 – The Audience

“I am fine speaking to a small group of people but a large audience terrifies me!”

This is completely misplaced as you are not speaking to a “large audience’, you are engaging in a conversation with one person many times over.  Unless you are a controversial politician you have nothing to fear from your audience. They are giving you their valuable time in return for you bringing them something of value.  Make sure you repeatedly make eye contact with individuals in the audience and speak directly to them, everyone else is just listening in!

Fear #2 The Imposter Syndrome

What if I am not expert enough? What if they see through me?  These questions are common.  All I say is remember that the definition of an expert is someone who knows more than you do.  If you remember that you are there to inform, engage and entertain (“IEE”), if they know something about your subject they will always forgive any overlap with your content as you will be providing them with your unique take on the subject and inevitably providing them with new and valuable information.

In fact, your very presence on the stage, lends you authority and gravity which, as long as you deliver on the “IEE”, they will always respect you and be prepared to listen to what they have to say.

Fear #3 Forgetting My Script

“What if I get so nervous I can’t remember my script?”

This is easy – don’t have a script.  I never do.  I always teach my students that your minimal slides are your “script”.  With only a few words, they are always there to act as your prompt to remind you what you want to say about the topic on that slide.  Then on to the next one.  Throw scripts in the bin, they are for amateurs and politicians (who are always reading someone else’s words).

Fear #4 Self Consciousness

Feeling self conscious standing on a stage is entirely understandable but unnecessary.  The MC has just given you a warm and very flattering introduction.  They audience is clapping and welcoming you to the platform and are ready and eager to hear what you have to say.  You are among friends!

Definitely check your flies are done up (Chaps) before striding forward, but otherwise enjoy the occasion and focus on having high positive energy rather than surrendering to your inner demons!  You are going to kill it! 🙂

Fear #5 Rejection

What if they don’t like what I have to say?  What if this seemingly friendly audience turns on me? What if there is a heckler in the audience?  Well, put your mind at rest!  This is not an issue you need to worry about.  Your audience has probably paid good money or are giving their valuable time to discover what you have to say and share with them!

If someone interrupts you, acknowledged them and politely ask for them to wait at until the end when you will take questions.  If they persist, simply ask politely again to wait until the end as everyone else in the audience is here to here you and it would be better not to spoil their experience.  This will get everyone else on your side.

I have never been heckled – so this is a most unlikely scenario.  The persistent questioner needs to be parked until the end of the presentation.  You can always ask them to wait until the end and you will speak with them at the end in the break.

Your audience is your greatest group of supporters.  They are there for you and will respect your authority and back you up.  So don’t worry about them rejecting you in any way – its not going to happen!

Fear # 6 Difficult Questions

What if I can’t answer them?

The best way to answer a question to which you don’t know the answer, is to admit it and tell them to contact you and you will get back to them with an answer.  Just be honest.

What if they don’t ask any?

Getting the first question can sometimes be a bit daunting….for the audience. If there is a silence when you ask for questions, I have two strategies to suggest:

Firstly, ask yourself a question: “While I have been speaking to you it occurred to me that I did not talk to you about what would happen if….” and then answer the question.

Secondly, if you have a Master of Ceremonies, give him a question you have prepared and ask him to introduce it if no one else asks a question!  Its a simple as that because once the first question has been asked, the next will follow.

Banish Your Public Speaking Fears!

As you can see, the only thing to fear is fear itself.  So banish is and get on that stage and blow them away!

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