Standing as part of my elementary school (Primary 4) class group on stage and awaiting my turn to make my presentation; my tummy turned, my head ached, sweat was falling profusely from every pore on my skin. Then it was my turn and in less than 30 seconds, I was done and I was still alive.
It’s over 20 years since my first taste of speaking in front of a crowd and until recently, it felt harder the older I got. I wasn’t on the glossophobia (speech anxiety) level, you know that degree of stage anxiety before speaking/performing at events where individuals simply freeze before their audience resulting in dried mouths, sweating, shaking or palpitations.
Mine didn’t get to that stage but needless to say, I was never going to ask any question in class or volunteer to speak in front of an audience. That was never going to happen.
Jerry Seinfeld made a great joke based on a simple observation:
“I read a thing that actually says that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing – number two was death! That means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
The fear of public speaking is the most common fear and prevents many people from achieving their potential. Imagine if you were comfortable speaking in public and took every opportunity presented, how would your life improve?
Watching Barrack Obama use his vocal prowess to wow his way into the White House was when it dawned on me that there is actually little one could achieve without possessing the grace to speak in front of a crowd.
So I became developing myself.
1. Improve yourself. Read books on self confidence, public speaking and leadership.
2. Believe in God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)
3. Pray. “Be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your request be made known to God. (Phillipians 4:6)
4. Prepare. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
5. Practice. As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, “You’re never really comfortable [on stage]. Even though you may think you are… you really aren’t. But, with time and practice, you learn how to open, how to sustain, how to pace…”. Key word is practice.
6. Play. Bond with the audience. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Joke.
7. Relax. You are not going to face the firing squad. Just relax.
To be afraid of speaking is to be afraid of power for power isn’t timid or shy. POWER IS BOLD!!