Fear of public speaking ranks higher than fear of DEATH!
Michelle Yozzo Drake reveals her secrets for overcoming the fear of public speaking to deliver powerful presentations.
Overcoming Fear of Public SpeakingIt always amazes me that if you look at the statistics on public speaking, people would rather die then speak in front of a crowd! It is scary how many people list public speaking above death among their fears! Even the most powerful, most successful men and women in their companies cower when asked to speak in front of a group. You would think that with all of their training, their schooling, their education, that public speaking would come naturally for them.
Working with high-level executives, I see how brilliant they are at what they do, but sometimes in communicating that message out, they focus on what they're afraid of instead of understanding that when you sit in front of an audience and the speaker is uncomfortable, you as the audience member are uncomfortable as well. And so, one of the things that I tell the people that I coach is to remember that your job is to help make that audience feel comfortable, so you're focusing on someone else's fears instead of your own. A lot of times things translate in different ways. Sometimes people are very good at what they do, but will focus in on one small detail, and when given a broad topic, they flounder with how you proceed with it.
One of the big pieces is to start when coaching someone on public speaking is: what is the outcome you want? Is the goal of the speech to motivate, to teach, to convince, to persuade? Knowing what you want at the end makes it easier to then back up and make sure every element of your speech focuses towards that end goal.
Although you can have all of those elements in your speech, there should be one main focus. And I try to batch humor into just about everything that I do. It seems to put people at ease, especially when you're dealing with speaking about things that are scary or highly emotional for people. Keeping it light helps the audience get the tools they need, absorb them, and be able to see how to test them out.
One of the elements of a successful speech or program is to know your audience and their issues beforehand. Then you can be sensitive to those issues and change the emphasis of your speech.