For whatever reason, I’ve never been bashful or shy when it comes to being in front of a crowd. In fact, it’s actually where I’m most alive. It’s where I belong—blood pumping, entertaining or educating and being the showman. I’ve written before about how stand up comedy was the best sales training I ever had.
However, as we all know the fear of public speaking is one of, if not the biggest fears in humans.
I’ve heard multiple stories as to why that innate fear is born into us and the one which makes the most sense to me is traced to the cave man days. When the tribe would go hunting, if they returned with no wooly mammoth or whatever was on that days shopping list, everyone knew they had to eat. And as they stood around the fire all eyes would end up settling on one person who unfortunately was going to end up taking the place of the elusive wooly mammoth that day.
The human body developed this sense of not liking others looking at us—we felt uncomfortable being the center of attention (and rightly so if you’ve ever substituted for a wooly mammoth).
So, Butch that’s all fine, well and good, but how do I get over my knees knocking, palms sweating and my breathing issues when I’m called on to speak? Let’s look at how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Well, my friends I think it boils down to one thing I think can help you overcome the fear of public speaking
Know your material
My personal belief is today part of the fear is born out of looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about. As I stated before I love being on stage speaking, but if I was asked to speak to a group of engineers on the inner-workings of a combustible engine I’d be a little uneasy. Well, I’d be a lot uneasy. I have no idea what I’m talking about and my audience is going to realize that very quickly.
If you know your material and have confidence in it, it goes a long way toward calming those fears. It doesn’t give you a sense of invincibility, but a sense of confidence you’re going to deliver a well-informed talk your audience will enjoy.
Know your limitations. If someone wants to hire me to speak on sales, marketing, motivation or inspiration, I’ll travel to the ends of the earth. But, if they wanted me to walk across the street to talk about oncology, I’m out. It wouldn’t be good for me or them.
No matter how many times you’ve given a talk, always keep it fresh—it will make it fun for you and when you’re having fun you don’t have time to think about being fearful.
Granted not everyone can overcome the fear of public speaking just like not everyone can learn to knit or cook or paint. It’s a skill. But, if it’s something you desire to do and are called on to do in your job, simply knowing your material will put you miles ahead.
Now, go break a leg—you’re up!