You have a message. Your “message” is your life. You determine how impactful your message is to the world. According to BrandonGraille.com, an estimated 5.3 million Americans suffer from social phobia, 74% of that group from speech anxiety. Based on my own research and practice, I have identified several key steps that have personally helped me to overcome this fear in my own life. My confidence in this area has grown so much that I actually aspire to be a full time professional speaker.
Know your topic
Practice,practice and practice more. Research your topic so that when you speak about it, you speak with authority. Your speech should sound as natural as possible. You don’t need to have a doctorate on the topic, but you do need to be prepared. More times than not, you will be more knowledgeable on the topic than your listeners. They are expecting to learn something about the topic from you. You don’t have to know everything that there is to know about a topic. As a rule of thumb, focus on being a step ahead of the average knowledge level of your audience.
Don’t focus on the entire group
Focus on one person at a time. It is easy to get overwhelmed especially when speaking in front of a large group. Scan the room . Look for a “kind” face. I would go as far as inviting a close friend or relative to attend the event. They can be your point person. Once you find that individual, their reactions to your words can serve to help you to relax. It is also important to remember that you are not the first person to have gotten nervous speaking in front of a group. Speaking gets easier with practice. Even seasoned speakers get nervous. They learn to manage their fear. They do not allow it to cripple them.
You don’t have to be perfect
Your audience was not with you when you were creating nor practicing the speech. You will be the recognized authority. If you have given yourself enough time to practice, you should have enough information stored in your brain to “wing” it if you have to.
This speaking can only be acquired through constant practice. You rehearse your speech until it is embedded in your spirit. Research the topic and as much as possible, find out as much information as you can about your audience. You are delivering a message that is ideally catered to your listeners. Always remember to take the focus off you. The goal is to connect with your audience. Taking the focus of off your performance and more on the needs of the people you are speaking to can ease the stress of speaking before a group.
Focus on sharing the message.
The group that you will be speaking to need to hear what you have to say. You have important information to share and you are the perfect one to do it.
One thing is for certain. Regardless of what the fear is, you must be willing to face it in order to overcome it. It is natural to feel afraid, at times. The problem arises once we allow the fear to cripple us. Overcoming our fears leads to growth. You were born to conquer not to be conquered. When we muster up the courage to face our challenges, those that observe us are inspired to face theirs. You are never truly alone. The world needs to hear what you have to say. Count on it. Until next time.