After reading Bill Hoogterp’s Your Perfect Presentation, I remembered the 90’s TV show Seinfeld where public speaking has been mentioned that people are more afraid of it than death itself. The statement may be quite amusing, however, this is, in fact, one of the most common social phobias.
If by chance, you receive an amazing opportunity to give a talk on a particular subject in your field of expertise or to give a live interview on the TV or on the radio, do you immediately jump to another plane of existence to zone out and asking yourself why you signed up for it? Do you panic? Does your breathing stop?.
If the mere thought of having to put yourself out there like that leaves you petrified in your tracks, then consider reading this book and alleviating the stress of it all and feel confident for such a situation.
The real objective in public speaking is to think clearly and speak clearly to sum it up. Many people believe they can’t think clearly because the situation is overloading their system. In fact, the sensation is the outright result of the belief they can’t think clearly.
It doesn’t get more real than standing on the stage and facing 100 or so people. The intensity of that feeling is directly related to the way you process it. For example, if you think when your forehead start to bead sweat you equate it to “you’re losing focus”, this actually derails your composure and ultimately increasing the the drama of that thought. In other words, you stress when you perceive a nearby threat.
This makes you nervous, that makes you lose control. What I learned here is that public speaking is like checking the room for spiders. If you decide to hit the lights without checking first for spiders will lead you to being nervous if an 8 legged friend is indeed lurking around.
Best possible way to minimize the fear is by familiarizing with the crowd, talk to them – indulge in their collective. This gives you just a right amount of prep of who or what you’re dealing with. It also helps if you decide to start the speech with a joke and being careful that you avoid any sensitive topics.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
It’s never a poor decision to hone your skills, like a blade if not sharpened becomes dull and useless.
The law of habituation says the more you do something, the less you fear it. Well, this works as long as you’re not scaring yourself with fearful thoughts. Which I highly suspect the main cause of the social phobia.
Going back to the law of habituation – when your nervous system gets sensitized to the experience of something fearful; which in this case is a presentation. Continually exposing yourself to it and recognizing it over time desensitizes your nerves. This makes you less nervous and more composed.
Public speaking is actually a safe situation, but when you add a dose of dread, your brain interprets it as unsafe. Nervousness does fade away over time as long as you’re going into the public speaking situation with the right frame of mind.
I read a good tip from the book that by recording yourself doing a speech during your practice, helps you recognize how you sound like and making you less conscious; also helps you adjust body languages that what you think is awkward.
Ask for feedback, or ask yourself “Did I do well? What could I do better next time?”. A general learning theme, of course, I could not emphasize this to such a degree that it stuck with me more than anything else.
Voice modulation is also important and adding pauses or breaks during the speech. Timing your pauses can make such a difference on how a point lands in the audience. Secondly, Modulation serves a key role in how you’d like your audience to digest the information. Go full range and you’ll empty the seats, go monotone and it’s like reading a eulogy.
This keeps them engaged and in return making you much more comfortable during the speech and gives you the opportunity to ask them back, get them to interact. Public speaking isn’t about what you’re trying to say, but how you say it.