If you find public speaking scary, it’s mainly because you don’t know how to do it. Yes, there are psychological strategies that will help you stay grounded and feel confident about addressing an audience, but to overcome fear of public speaking really what you need to do is to learn the techniques of effective preparation and delivery.
Many activities are scary when you don’t know what you’re doing. Swimming, for example, or driving a car. The only difference between these and public speaking is in the attitude to learning. Swimming, particularly, is a perfectly natural activity for a mammal to be able to do – yet nobody would suggest humans have a innate ability to swim: we have to learn how. And, crucially, nobody would seriously suggest the best way to learn to swim is to plunge into the sea and just do it.
Because fear is unpleasant, the temptation is to avoid its source. But then, the fear is always there, looming over you and, if you’re not careful, limiting your life. My message to you today is that overcoming fear of public speaking is almost certainly far, far easier than you might imagine. 90% of it is about learning a few straightforward techniques, which you can master in a few hours.
Years ago, I heard an interview with Eddie Izzard, in which he was asked how he handled nerves when talking to a crowd. Annoyingly, I can’t find it anywhere to give you a direct link and I’ll have to paraphrase his answer but it went something like this: “That’s like asking someone who’s about to set off on a drive, ‘Aren’t you scared you’ll hit a tree?’. When you know what you’re doing, you don’t think about it”.
Once you’ve learnt how to do it, you may be amazed what you can achieve in public speaking. If you’d like some coaching, get in touch and let’s make it happen. Feel the fear dissolve as you acquire the knowledge and skills to put yourself across with conviction.
(Read more about public speaking coaching on my website and see what you think.)