The fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears people experience in the modern world. There are many techniques to overcome this issue and to use it to your advantage.
Did you ever heard the advice to picture your audience naked? Or sitting on the toilette? It is one of the most known advices to overcome your public speaking anxiety. Guess what, it doesn’t work.
Personally, I would be terrified to death to present to people sitting on the toilette. Picturing your audience naked could also be a horrible experience. I want to transfer an idea to you. I can’t do it while you are naked - even if you are an audience of gorgeous women (you know how it works with the audience of a programmer - it usually doesn’t contain a lot of women). I would be, at the very least, distracted.
First thing to say about public speaking nervousness is that it is totally normal. Everyone can experience it and probably everyone experienced it. It just happens.
Some of us can experience it more, some of us less. The situation also matters. One can be cool when playing a guitar on the concert but when it comes to speaking he is stunned.
There are three types of public speaking apprehension. Physiological, cognitive and behavioral. You can’t think clearly, your voice is shaking, you are short of breath, your hands are trembling. Usually the apprehension is the mix of all the categories.
There is one important thing. We feel more anxious than our audience can see. This is one of the major boosters. You are exaggerating the experience.
Remember that PSA can’t be eliminated. Nevertheless, it can be handled, but how?
There is a lot of theories about the PSA and where it comes from. Some claims that it’s in our nature. We view the audience as a predators and our little brain is signaling us the danger of the situation. Some claims that the feeling is the same as the excitement and you can simply transform it. I suggest the following.
- Become used to public speaking.
- Change how you think about public speaking.
The first advice is simple. Do more public speaking. It’s easier to say than to actually do. Particularly when it is one of the most scariest thing for you. Nevertheless, the more talks you do the more confident you are when handling your fear.
When you accept that this anxiety is just a different form of excitement you can use it to your advantage. You can gain more energy and you can focus this energy to the audience and become even better public speaker. Speak naturally and visualize yourself doing well.
If you focus on the small skills at home and during your preparation you’ll be more confident on the stage. Practice the mechanics of public speaking. Prepare your outlines. Challenge your evidence. Focus on the audience. If you do your homework, you suddenly discover the skills you learnt on the stage and it helps a lot to overcome your nervousness.