Why do people fear speaking more than they fear death? Could it simply be that Speaker Anxiety is caused by insufficient preparation?
By following a defined process for preparing for any presentation, speaker anxiety can be reduced and success increased.
You have probably read the surveys and the reports and the stories on the internet where people rank their top fears.
Most people rank the fear of public speaking as number one. In many of these surveys death is ranked as number two. I recently heard a person who was introducing me at an event that I was speaking at who said, “If you think about that it means that if you go to a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket then delivering the eulogy.”
Another speaker friend of mine has often said, “I question the validity of that because if I were to hold a gun to your head, odds are you would suddenly become a great speaker.”
Now regardless of whether it truly is people’s greatest fear, there is no doubt there’s a huge amount of anxiety attached to speaking. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the size of audience is, many people are anxious just talking to their boss or to their co-workers. You get all nervous in your stomach and you start to perspire and you’re just not comfortable.
There are some things you can do to get over that anxiety as a speaker. The first part is to be prepared, truly be prepared for whatever you want to present. Now in many cases, people will sit down and try to write out whatever they want to present and this is particularly important if you’re delivering a speech or any sort of presentation, even if it’s only a one or two minute presentation.
Don’t write it out. You see the issue is when you write it out that’s not how you speak.
Craig Valentine, one of my coaches, always says, “Speak your way into speaking.”
What that means is take your cellphone and record yourself saying what you want to say. Now the first time it’s going to be a little bit rough and uncut but have that recording transcribed. Now you’re going to start seeing how you speak the words, take that transcription and start typing up the wording, make your points more clear, continue speaking it.
Don’t just read your transcript, speak it. There’s a big difference between reading it in your mind and speaking it.
Continue practicing it.
Now here’s the key, if you have a sufficient time window ideally you want to have the text of whatever you’re presenting prepared at least two weeks prior to the event. Now I say at least. Ideally, if it’s a major presentation, you want to prepare considerably further in advance because the more you practice it, the more natural it will begin to sound.
If you ever heard someone deliver a presentation and it sounded rehearsed: It was.
The problem was it wasn’t rehearsed enough because with enough rehearsal the presentation becomes very natural because it is becoming ingrained in you. As a presenter you can present it and it’ll sound totally natural.
Speak your way into speaking, record it, transcribe it, type it up and practice a lot. You’ll be amazed at the results and then when people come up and say you did a great job, you probably did. Good luck and get over that anxiety by being prepared.