If you have a fear of speaking publicly or perceive that you do not have the confidence to stand up in front of a group of people and share a message that is meaningful to you, then read on for Dr Demartini’s 7 tips to overcoming your fear of public speaking.
If you can speak and engage your audience enough to listen and you can articulate your message in a way that gives them something of meaningful value and inspires them, you can rise up to the top 20% of the 20% of the world.
I have been blessed to give up to 400 speeches per year for almost 48 years, so this is something that I have learned quite a bit about. I would love to share a few insights, practical tools, and tips that have helped me, and others, hone this craft. I am certain that it will help you too!
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Tip #1: Only speak about something that you are knowledgeable and certain about.
Anytime you speak about something that you are not adequately informed and certain about, you are likely to hesitate, procrastinate and distract yourself from your objective and therefore not be fully focused, present and fluent.
However, if you are speaking about what you are knowledgeable about, and you have novel content or at least more knowledge than anybody in the audience, you are not likely to end up having anxiety about speaking.
So, stick to what you know, and let what you know grow as you gain knowledge and as you expand your awareness and skill. It would be wise to avoid stepping outside of your core competence. You learn to play the flute by playing the flute. You learn to speak by speaking and refining your skill.
Tip #2: Begin with a story that is personal to you.
This is something that Toastmasters International recommends, that they call the ice-breaker. It is wise to make that “icebreaker” about some meaningful story about your life.
Here’s why: nobody in the audience knows more about your life than you. That means that when you speak about your own life, you know more about your own life than anybody in that audience – it is a core competence.
So, if you plan to talk about what you know, then sharing something about yourself is a great way of loosening up and engaging the audience.
I learned a long time ago that when you are speaking and humbly sharing a meaningful and inspiring story from your heart, your audience members are more likely to go into their hearts with you. I have had 9,000 people in tears together with me when I presented an inspiring moment of my life’s journey, which completely leveled the playing field because we were all there in our hearts together.
My suggestion is to think about all the moments in your life related to the topic you are about to speak to and write down the most inspiring ideas, experiences and stories that are related to it.
Tip #3: The reason why people have a fear of public speaking is not the fear of speaking. Instead, it is the fear of speaking in front of others that you think have more knowledge or more achievements than you.
There are seven areas of life that I break life into: your spiritual quest; your intellectual quest; business quest; financial quest; family, love and intimacy quest; social leadership quest; and physical health and wellbeing quest.
Anytime you speak on a topic and there is someone in the audience that you perceive is more empowered, or knowledgeable or in a greater stature or position than you in that field, you are likely to compare yourself to them, exaggerate them and minimize yourself. This can result in a self-depreciating preoccupation with what they think of you.
The way that social values and conformity have assisted human beings through the ages as a survival strategy is that the moment we offload our decisions and give power to other authoritative people and put them on pedestals, we tend to exaggerate them and shrink or minimize ourselves in comparison.
In doing so, we are likely to inject their values into our life and judge ourselves relative to their values. In that way, we tend to compare ourselves to what we think they expect, or our illusion of who they are and often end up depreciating ourselves. Self-depreciation is simply a byproduct of comparing ourselves to other people and their values.
So, the moment you think somebody in that audience is more intelligent than you in relation to what you are talking about, you are likely to be focused on a comparison and become self-absorbed about what you perceive they think about you instead of just presenting from your heart, your meaningful message.
As a result, instead of focusing on the mission and the message of what you are speaking about, you are likely to be thinking about yourself and comparing your knowledge to theirs, and that’s not what’s going to make you a great orator.
Instead, it would be wise to think about:
- The mission and message you want to share; and
- How you can make it meaningful to your audience.
- The content you know and are certain about.
Tip #4: Have four times the amount of material that is needed to do the presentation than what is required in the time you have to present.
In other words, if you have a 30-minute presentation then have a minimum of two hours of material prepared. I’ve been using this rule for almost 48 years now, and it has served me so well because as long as you have more material than you are going to have time for, you will have plenty to say, and will be more likely to be fluent in your presentation instead of stressing about what to say next and ending up with umms, ands, uhhs or gaps and pauses.
Tip #5: As long as you speak about something that is going to fulfill your audience’s needs, they are likely to be receptive.
If you really want to make a difference in life, you are not likely to do it by fitting in and just joining in and saying the same thing everybody is else saying. You can make a difference by finding something novel and original to speak about – something that is deeply meaningful to you. Take the Ted Talks, for example. They tend to be original, which is what makes them intriguing. So, find something that is out there on the edge, but composed of what you are specialized or most knowledgeable about.
As I said earlier, start with your core competence and build outward with incremental momentum, focusing on what you already know. If you start with what you know and let what you know grow and build momentum with that, you are likely to build a cutting-edge information base that will allow you to share something that you know they don’t know that you deeply want to share.
Plus, when you can’t wait to share valuable information with people; people can’t wait to receive it. When you can’t wait to get up in the morning and be of service to people; people can’t wait to get your service. When you can’t wait to speak and share; they can’t wait to receive the life impacting information that you have to give.
Tip #6: As an educator or public speaker, you have a responsibility to constantly learn and educate yourself.
I am constantly reading every single day because I want to make sure that I have new information that is inspiring that allows me to refine and upgrade and keep current with information at the cutting edge.
It is wise to build up a database of information that is new that you would love to share with others. Get on your computer and start organizing your knowledge because organized knowledge is power. Access the greatest and most reliable source of meaningful information available.
If you just read something and don’t organize it, it is less powerful than if you have it structured and have a cohesive and coherent presentation in your mind.
It would therefore be wise to have knowledge that is specialized, that is inspiring to you, and that is highest on your list of values.
The greatest presentation is when you have something that you can’t wait to share with people you love and care about. When you walk onto a large stage or emerge on zoom, or present to a small group, or become interviewed on radio, television or podcast interviews if you come from that enthusiastic perspective, people can feel it. They can tell when you are fully present and they become more engaged and present. That is likely to make a big difference in your presentation and impact.
Tip #7: Have a cause bigger than any of your perceived obstacles, even if those obstacles include your assumed lack of confidence about speaking in public.
When your why is big enough, your ‘hows’ will take care of themselves. Write down today why you would love to be able to share your inspired message with the world. Then see yourself doing it, visualize it, feel it and get out there and just do it.
As stated previously, you learn to play the flute by playing the flute. In the same way, we will learn to speak publicly by doing public speaking.
Instead of letting your fear of public speaking hold you back from making a greater difference in the world consider the following points:
Points to Ponder:
- Make sure what you are going to present you are fully knowledgeable about.
- Make sure your topic is truly a high priority topic to you and your audience so you are inspired to present it.
- Don’t let any human being in the audience interfere with your mission and message you have to bring to the world and don’t let any fear stop you from a message being brought to those you care about. Your fear is simply an assumption that there are going to be more drawbacks than benefits to you if you present.
- Look at using your fear of public speaking to your advantage? In other words, see it as being “on the way”, not “in the way”. It is letting you know to prepare, not compare and stick to what you know.
By considering the principles and tools I have presented above to help you transcend your concerns about public speaking you can more confidently achieve your aim. I am certain that you have a message that the world could benefit by hearing. So, start learning more, start preparing more, start sharing stories more about what is meaningful to you – and watch as your influence grows and expands as a result of you caring and sharing.
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About Dr John Demartini:
Dr. John Demartini, is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author. He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award.
His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today. His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.