You’d be surprised to learn that public speaking is one of the most common fears today. About 25% of people say they have anxiety when speaking in public. If this is you, you’re not alone – many people feel nervous speaking in front of a crowd. Even business legend Warren Buffett and undeniable leader Mahatma Gandhi had stage fright. Yet both learned how to be excellent public speakers.
Why do we have anxiety when speaking in public?
The simple public speaking definition is about conveying information to an audience. The audience doesn’t have to be large. Indeed anything from giving a client presentation to a room of five to giving a TED talk to a room of 100 counts as public speaking. But there are some specific characteristics of public speaking that differentiate it from a more general conversation.
To meet the definition of public speaking, a presentation will often be purposeful. In other words, it’s meant to inform, influence or entertain a group. Public speaking has a goal in mind and often requires preparation and research. The source of the message is usually an expert, and the audience is always invested in the topic. It takes practice to master, but it’s an essential life skill.
Public speaking is often thought of in terms of business, like giving a presentation, participating in a Q&A or hosting a training session. Great public speakers are rewarded with workplace influence, trust and beneficial relationships. It’s one element of corporate communication and is vital to career advancement and outstanding leadership.
These skills serve well in other areas of life, of course. Maybe you need to make a toast at a wedding, participate in an open mic night or will be presenting or receiving an award. These are all examples of public speaking.
As you incorporate public speaking tips into your life and work on strengthening this skill, you’ll see other benefits, too. The research required in writing a speech or making a presentation, plus the need to take in questions and respond in a persuasive way, will sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Practicing constantly and the never-ending improvement through personal development will also get you into a growth mindset, something you can take into other areas of your life. One study even found public speaking increases confidence, and that’s something you can take with you anywhere.
Anxiety when speaking in public tips
When it comes down to it, public speaking is all about being able to communicate effectively with your audience. Here are Tony Robbin’s public speaking tips on how to master the art and get any group of people, no matter how small or large, on your side.
1. FACE YOUR FEARS
Ask yourself this, “What’s your biggest fear when it comes to public speaking”? Determining your fears will help you decide which public speaking tips you need to work on the most. For most people, anxiety when speaking in public comes from the fear of embarrassing themselves in front of a crowd or finding out they really have nothing to say or no way to connect with others. These are limiting beliefs based on a combination of factors including childhood, past results, your environment and lack of knowledge.
When you get too hung up on these fears, you become incapable of delivering an incredible presentation. Instead of thinking of what could go wrong, start thinking about all the things that can go right. What would it be like if you could not fail? Step into that mindset and how to speak in public will suddenly become much easier. As Todd Herman recommends, create an “alter ego” that you feel possesses the skills you fear you lack. When you step in front of a crowd, channel that persona who is confident, knowledgeable and truly cannot fail. Not only will this help you learn how to improve public speaking, but it can also increase your confidence in many other areas of life.
2. MASTER YOUR PHYSICAL STATE
Public speaking must include mastery of both mental and physical states. Think of a powerful presentation you’ve seen in the past. You might remember what the speaker talked about, but you definitely remember how they carried themselves. Excellent public speakers not only know their topic inside and out, but also take pride in their physical state. Those who are skilled in making instant connections with others know the power of nonverbal communication. When you show self-confidence and energy through standing up straight, making direct eye contact and breathing regularly, you show your audience they can have confidence in what you say. Remember, speaking in public is not just about the speaking, it’s also about the way in which you deliver the words.
3. VISUALISE YOUR OUTCOME
There’s a reason why you’re presenting in front of a group. Are you selling something? Are you trying to get a group of investors to back your new company? Before you get up to make your presentation, take some time to think about your ideal outcome. This will help you develop SMART goals for your presentation. SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame. Without them, you will not truly know how your speech went and if it was a success.
You want those in the crowd to be engaged with your message, and eventually want them to follow through with a specific action. Before you begin your presentation, visualize this outcome. What would it look like if your speech went incredibly well? Imagine not only your desired result, but also how you look presenting your speech. This visualisation exercise will help affirm your purpose and give you a boost of confidence.
4. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Those who know how to speak in public understand that it’s not just about them. Just as great leaders know it’s about their buyers and not about themselves, effective speakers always put their audience first. Your audience is there for a reason. When you tap into that reason, your speech will be powerful and memorable.
The best public speaking also builds rapport with the audience. This means inquiring about their lives, sharing personal anecdotes and connecting nonverbally via eye contact and mirroring techniques. Just because you’re the one on stage doesn’t mean you can’t bring your audience into the conversation through asking questions, soliciting feedback and asking others to share stories. Public speaking can and should involve drawing your audience in and making them a large part of your presentation.
5. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Start with detailed research and that’s even on a topic you’re an expert in. Look at your presentation from every angle and anticipate what questions your audience might ask. Show it to someone who is even more of an expert than you are and ask for advice on how to make it better. You cannot be too prepared for public speaking.
It’s time to practice and then practice some more. Tried-and-true public speaking tips include practicing in front of a mirror, delivering your speech to a friend and even recording yourself to look for areas of improvement. Take it from Mark Twain, who famously said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
6. USE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
None of these anxiety when speaking in public tips will be effective unless you are calm and relaxed before your presentation. The next time you have to speak in public and feel yourself getting anxious, take a moment to relax. Do some deep breathing and reconnect with yourself. Perhaps even sing a relaxing or empowering song in your head.
Once you’re relaxed, reaffirm that you are prepared and know how to speak in public. If you know your material and can present yourself in a confident manner, there’s no reason for you to worry. The people you’re presenting to are there because they want to hear what you have to say, so don’t hesitate when it’s time to share your message.
7. GET SOME EXERCISE
Exercise relieves stress and helps you sleep at night, among other benefits. You’ll need to be stress-free and well-rested in order to give a great presentation or speech. Plus, creating good habits like regular exercise is important to living a balanced and positive lifestyle. Indeed that positivity easily turns into confidence in front of a crowd.
Exercising right before public speaking also has positive benefits. You don’t have to work up a sweat. A brisk walk, a few squats or some curb jumps will get your blood pumping and send extra oxygen to your brain. You’ll feel relaxed but alert, which is the perfect state of mind for public speaking.
8. DON’T OVERTHINK IT
Anxiety when speaking in public may be our number-one fear, but anxiety is pretty much now the number-one mental health issue. Are you an over thinker? You’re not alone. One estimate is that one in five people suffer from anxiety. But there are strategies you can use to let go of these patterns and stop over thinking. When you’re able to be fully present in the moment, your public speaking will reach new heights.
9. FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
Just as there are many types of leaders, there are all different types of effective public speakers. Put your own individual touch on your talks, ensuring that you stand out and be remembered. You certainly don’t have to mirror other people’s style, but its recommended to find an energetic and appealing way to connect with your audience. Ask yourself, what are some of your greatest personality traits? How can you channel these characteristics into a moving, thought-provoking presentation? If you have any anxiety when speaking in public, one of the best public speaking tips, is to bring your unique brand of authenticity to the stage.
10. OVERCOME YOUR ANXIETY WHEN SPEAKING IN PUBLIC BY TACKLING YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS
Overcome your fear of speaking in public by learning how to conquer your limiting beliefs. Combat the thoughts holding you back by creating empowering ones. This is indeed something I regularly do with clients. If you would also like to overcome anxiety when speaking in public, get in touch to find out how I can help.