Overcoming the FEAR of Public Speaking. Part 2
In my last blog I spoke to you about the life-transforming events that led me down the path to overcoming my fear of public speaking. This week’s blog will focus on the lessons learned during my transformation process.
Research shows that the #1 fear in America is public speaking…beating death as #2. That’s funny to me and amazing. Perhaps its because once you are done speaking you’re still here to suffer the criticism and aftermath, whereas “death”, well what can I say…who gives a crap!
I want to speak to that fellow perfectionist out there. Your perfectionist mentality is what drives your anxiety with public speaking because you won’t settle for anything less than being PERFECT. Yet when you began walking, you weren’t so good and look at you now. We expect to start PERFECT, yet like walking, it is a skill you develop and then master. We perfectionists tend to set our standards so high that they are virtually impossible to reach. If we can’t start out as an “expert” we’d rather not start at all. There are two types of perfectionist.
- The POSITIVE Perfectionist – generally achievement oriented. These individuals focus on what went right, what can be improved and celebrate just trying.
- The NEGATIVE Perfectionist – generally failure oriented. These individuals are more concerned about the mistakes, about looking bad, and about what they “should” have done.
To be honest …I have struggled with both types of perfectionist tendencies. There is a quote by Anne Wilson Schaef that resonates with me, “Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” My suggestion, find a happy medium.
Over the past five years I have been going through some huge transformational changes. Coming face to face with a near death experience in 2012 will do that to you. I have come to realize that life is short, why waste it on yourself? I’ve reached a point where I’m able to tell my perfectionist self to sit down and shut up! It has taken a lot of counseling and introspection, but what I am finding is that by just letting myself feel and enjoy the moment without the anxiety of screwing up…I get things right more often than not. When I stop worrying about what others think, I can actually get my point across more clearly.
In closing I’d like to provide you are few personal lesson-learned tips on what to do and not to do when preparing for and giving a speech. These tips don’t relate to any of the tools and resources you will utilize, but rather to the mental anxiety that the perfectionist in you keeps throwing in your path.
- Don’t memorize your speech word for word. Just read through it several times and get familiar enough within it. You can always use your presentation bullet points to trigger your next points.
- Why: because you will be so focused on the words, the passion will be lost in the message. Plus if you lose your place, it’s more difficult to get it back.
- Don’t go off script. Make sure that you continue to follow your practiced outline. For new speakers, I suggest you hold all questions until after your speech.
- Why: Once again, because it will take too much time to get back into the flow of your speech and you risk the chance of confusing your message.
- Don’t stand behind a podium and read a scripted speech. Get out from behind the podium; engage your audience by scanning it as you speak. Sometimes picking one or two people and talking to them will eliminate the overwhelming feeling of a larger audience.
- Why: This is the best way to measure the effectiveness of your speech. Watch the audience’s reaction.
- Do Practice, Practice, Practice!
- Why: The most effective way to overcome those performance anxiety jitters is to know your subject matter frontwards and backwards.
- Do speak only on subject matters that you are passionate about.
- Why: Because without passion and conviction, you deliver a dull, dead speech
- Do match your speech to your audience.
- Why: Because your reputation depends on it. If you are committed to becoming a public speaker, you want the referrals!
- Respect the audience’s time.
- Why: Again, your reputation as a speaker depends on it.
My final words on the matter of public speaking are to embrace the role of speaker. This means don’t rush through the speech. Engage the audience and just have fun. It’s just a conversation. What’s the worst that could happen? Nothing at all… if you don’t try. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. In the words of Mark Twain, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, NOT absence of fear.” The jitters never go away, they just strengthen your resolve.
Danna is a Business Growth Strategist and CEO of MarketAtomy, LLC. Her passion is working with small first stage entrepreneurs to ensure that they start out on the right foot and stay on the path to financial freedom. Known as the Business Birthing Specialist, Danna understands the intricacies involved in starting and running a successful business. As an intricate component ingrained into her client’s business structure, she works diligently to keep her clients accountable and on track to fulfilling their success goals.
A graduate of the University of Central Florida’s College of Business. She brings more than 35 years of strategic planning experience in business, marketing and business development both nationally and internationally.
Danna is not only a professional business growth strategist but has worked as an International Strategist within the country of Brazil, is a public speaker and #1 Best Selling Author on Amazon with “Success From The Heart.”