Are you afraid of public speaking? Are your public speaking skills negatively affecting your career? Do you wish you could more comfortably articulate your ideas? For millions of people, the answer to these questions is yes.
People who are good at public speaking are perceived as more confident, competent, and knowledgeable than those who are not. There is often a direct relationship between the public speaking skills and career advancement. Almost all top executives are proficient in public speaking. Did they become executives because they are good at public speaking? Or, did they become good at public speaking because they became executives? In my experience, it is the latter.
Even if you fear public speaking, it is nothing to fret over. After working as a life coach and hypnotherapist for over 25 years, I can assure you that public speaking is a learned skill, and just about anyone can become a confident speaker.
Public speaking should not be perceived as a threat, but as a great opportunity to develop your communication skills and expand your influence. With mental practice and clear, realistic goals in mind, speaking in public can be an invigorating and satisfying experience.
Here are four points to help develop your public speaking skills.
1. Understand your body
People who fear public speaking typically go through the same physical reactions as those who suffer from panic attacks. Rapid heart beats, shaking limbs, quivering voice, dizziness, nausea, and a sense of faintness are all common reactions among people who are called upon to speak in public. If you are afraid of public speaking, it is likely you have had a bad experience in the past. Your subconscious mind remembers that pain and tries to prevent it from recurring by alerting you with these uncomfortable physical signs.
There are two things you can do to minimize these reactions. First, before the speaking event, use hypnotic suggestion to program your subconscious mind that this is not a threat, but an opportunity to develop your skills. You must prepare your subconscious mind and let it accept the fact that you’re perfectly capable of speaking in public, the way so many other people do.
Second, even after all the mental preparation you can do, you may still experience some physical reactions. When such reactions occur, you should accept them “as is” and not fight with them. This is the technique we teach people who suffer panic attacks. Those physical signs come and go like waves. Trying to stop them creates more panic, and does little to resolve your anxiety. By knowing your body reactions, you can just let the symptoms of anxiety play out while remaining confident that you will be able to calm down and take control. Just remember to breathe calmly as you speak out and you will be fine.
2. Be yourself
One of the most common reasons why many people dislike public speaking is the pressure of unrealistic expectations regarding the actual speech performance. You cannot expect to become someone like Oprah Winfrey or Anthony Robbins in your next speech. You don’t need to be brilliant, witty, or perfect to succeed. In most public speaking scenarios, the objective of the speech is to give your audience valuable information. Prioritize the expression of your ideas over the way you deliver the words.
3. Prepare your conscious and subconscious mind
It is vital to practice giving the speech over and over, committing it firmly to memory so you’re not obviously reciting it or grasping for forgotten words during your speech. Fear of forgetting what you’re supposed to say next is one of the main causes of stage fright.
When I help my clients prepare for a big presentation, I use hypnosis to create a realistic image of the room, audience, and atmosphere so that my clients can practice the speech in the most realistic setting many times before the presentation.
Clients visualize and listen to their ideal speech from beginning to end in their head while feeling confident and in control. By repeating this exercise over and over, it would actually be somewhat difficult for you to feel nervous on a real stage.
4. Keep going back to the stage
Even if your speech turns out not to your satisfaction, don’t beat yourself up. I’ve never had a client who said, “That’s it! I’m never going to speak in public again!” Most likely, they would say “I could have done better. I want to do it again.” Remember that all great speakers have made hundreds of speeches. You are just starting your path to be a good speaker. Embrace it and keep going back to the stage! Public speaking is a skill mastered with experience. The more public speaking experience you gain, the easier it becomes and the more confident you will feel.