Overcome Speaking Anxiety
by Sally Strackbein
Stage fright or public speaking anxiety makes me sad. It's usually nice people who have it. Stage fright is a very self centered state of being — which is contradictory. Without exception, every person I've worked with who had stage fright or speaking anxiety is a kind, nice, not the least bit selfish person. Yet, when asked to stand in front of a group and make a presentation, they are 100% self-centered. It's all about "me, me, me." What will they think of me? What if I flub? They're not going to like me. Me. Me. Me.
Yet, when you have a one-on-one conversation with a person who suffers from speaking anxiety, there isn't the least hint of any "Me. Me. Me." They're quite normal.
Stage fright can hold you back in business. The ability to speak confidently is an essential business skill. Business people at all levels need to speak at internal meetings as well as presenting externally. In business, we speak to coworkers, customers, vendors at conferences and other events. Being reluctant to make presentations can delay upward mobility and promotions.
I know business owners who lose business because they can't present their value to prospects. They lose to other business owners who are willing to give a sales presentation or speak at a business breakfast.
I've worked with many people who were afraid to get up in front of groups to speak. Many had embarrassing incidents earlier in school or on the job when they were required to stand up and speak, read aloud, or perform. Sometimes their teacher humiliated them or other students made fun of them. Whatever the root cause, the result is stage fright — the fear of public speaking, speaking anxiety.
People who suffer from stage fright voice some common concerns:
- I'm afraid people will judge me
- What if I can't think of anything to say
- I'm not any good
The key to overcoming speaking anxiety is to become "them-centered." Speaking is about giving the audience value. It's about paying attention to their reactions, their questions, their needs. Them. Them. Them.
Audiences expect speakers to meet their needs. They expect to get valuable information or they expect to be entertained or both. They don't expect regular people to perform like Tony Robbins. They don't sit in their chairs picking you apart unless they are insecure speakers themselves.
If you dread public speaking, here are a few tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.
Try these simple steps to overcome speaking anxiety:
- Keep your focus on the audience
- Notice a person who has a friendly expression on their face and speak to them first
- Pay attention to what you like about them
- Then scan briefly for another friendly face and speak to that person, noticing something positive about them
- Keep your focus on what you like about your audience
- Then focus on the information you have to give them
- Stay Them-Focused
The more you focus on the positives about the audience, the less you think about yourself.
You aren't a self-centered person, are you? Try thinking about other people when you speak. It works!
copyright © Sally Strackbein.
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Sally Strackbein is a speaker and author.
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