Last week's "Three Steps to Kick Social Anxiety" broke traffic records here. No doubt about it: Meeting new people puts us out of our comfort zone! You guys had a lot to say about public speaking. In fact, there were so many good tips in the comments, many from professional coaches, that I've used them to create this new post. (Most of the responses are edited down, rather than verbatim.) Thanks all for the great input!
1. Practice, practice and practice. Most nerves develop when we think we won't come across as credible to our audience. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be with your program, the less nervous you will be. Janet Boulter
2. Home field advantage: Examine your current affiliations and see if there is a group that you are very comfortable in and start speaking there first. Josh Phanco
3. Control for quality: Focus more on content and less on delivery. Chad Brue
4. Do your wee ones a favor: Parents can help their kids grow up with comfort in public speaking by looking for and creating opportunities. Church, scouting, various clubs, drama, debate all can give these opportunities. Or you can create them in your own family and in gatherings with friends and relatives, where children are given experiences to contribute, to share a thought, give a little speech, act in a skit, etc. (An opportunity for practice for you as well!) Jeff Lindsay
5. Get meds: Taking the drug Propranolol about 30 minutes prior to a high stakes meeting can really help. It's a beta blocker - sometimes called the 'stage fright pill' - that reduces the anxiety response, e.g., sweaty palms, dry mouth, racing heart, long enough to let you get into your presentation, sales call, etc. Dean Becker
6. Ipod to the rescue: Listen to a few kick ass songs to get you into your groove. If your body isn't moving and you're not singing... then find better songs. Matt
7. Remember the Force: See yourself as connected to everyone and everything. Martial Arts teaches students that all is one. That means when you address that "scary sea of faces" you should see them as exactly the same as you, because guess what - they are! David Portney
8. Mental buddy-up: Imagine yourself some time in the future, hugging the people in the crowd, as though they were long lost family. Or imagine them after the talk, approaching you and telling you how positively the message affected them.
9. Share the love: Just before walking to the podium, look into the eyes of as many people in the room as you can. Project every ounce of your being into the thought that they are going to love your message. (And make sure your content delivers on that promise!)
10. Use a positive mantra. Rather than thinking negative thoughts like "don't screw up" or "what if I forget what I want to say?"repeat a positive mantra as a means of boosting confidence and focusing on the audience. Find a mantra that is personally meaningful and believable. It could be a song title (Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT" comes to mind), a line from a poem or anything that makes you feel powerful and confident. And it has to be strong enough to drown out the negative, "Joy-Sucker" voice in your head that undermines their confidence and makes you less able to convey their knowledge and experience to the audience. My personal mantra is "You go, girl!" (accompanied by a mental fist in the air). Gilda Bonanno
Take a minute to develop your personal pre-speech mantra - and share it here!
Check out my blog at www.keithferrazzi.com/blog for more posts like this!
Photo courtesy the Experient e4 Blog.
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