Fear of public speaking is your best friend! You may think, “Hey, Andrii, when I get on stage, my palms sweat, my knees shake, my heart pounds and when I am about to say that first word, I freeze. Isn’t that a problem?”
No! Actually, fear of public speaking can be a tremendous ally, as you can use it to make your presentation dynamic, sincere and memorable.
A famous Las Vegas comedian says, “Every time I come on stage and don’t feel any butterflies in my stomach, I bomb.”
This comedian, who has performed the same show 7 days per week for more than 10 years, fails if he doesn’t feel fear! When you don’t feel fear, it means only one thing: you don’t care about the audience.
People can read your nonverbal signals much better than you can imagine. Once they sense that you don’t care about them, they will stop caring about you and no matter how skillful you are on stage, your presentation will fail.
However, after the comedian bombed, his next show was extremely successful, because he felt butterflies again, and he cared about his audience so he delivered with passion and energy.
Allow fear to transform you, so it creates the right attitude and great energy. Fear is what will make your next presentation really successful. Be happy if you feel butterflies before your speech. Worry if you don’t feel any butterflies!
Besides butterflies, there is a second type of fear, the one that paralyzes you when you start speaking. This is a type of fear that you need to avoid.
When I participated in a public speaking contest in Santa Clara, CA, I came into the building 30 minutes in advance. I had practiced my speech dozens of times, and I had received a lot of great feedback. I knew it by heart. However, once I went on stage and looked into the empty chairs in the audience, I felt stuck and my mind went blank. I forgot my lines.
People fear the unknown and in order to reduce your fear on stage, you need to make everything unfamiliar as familiar as possible.
I practiced my speech silently on stage. I looked into the audience. I sat in different corners of the room in order to become comfortable with the setting.
Once I did all these exercises, the stage and the audience became more familiar to me.
When the first audience members arrived, I shook their hands and talked with them. Many people in the audience not only became familiar to me but they also became my allies during the speech.
Once I was called on stage, I delivered my speech more powerfully than ever before. I have never had such a good connection with my audience.
To get rid of your paralyzing fear, arrive a bit early and familiarize yourself with the stage, talk to your audience members, sit in different chairs in the audience and when it’s time to speak, you will have nothing to fear.
And one more thing! Paralyzing fear is a physical effect. Your hands are sweating, your heart is pounding and you may even be trembling a bit. So you need to allow this energy to escape in a physical way.
Before your speech, do physical exercises in a nearby room or outside the building. Jump, dance, do push ups. Your fear of public speaking energy will turn into excitement energy. Remember that fear is your best friend. If you feel butterflies, you will succeed!
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