Afraid of Public Speaking?

Public speaking is one of the best ways to build your network by making yourself visible to large groups of people. Unfortunately, to some degree, many people are afraid of public speaking. I’ve stood in front of groups of people and given speeches and presentations all over the world, and I’ll be the first to admit that standing in front of an audience and talking while all eyes are on you can sometimes be intimidating. That’s no reason to miss out on the amazing opportunity to grow your network through public speaking.

Here are five suggestions for people who are nervous doing presentations at their networking groups or otherwise:

1. Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.

2. Be specific and only talk about the things you know best.

3. Use handouts, visuals or PowerPoint slides to help carry you through the talk.

4. You’re the expert–think of ways to show it that aren’t threatening to you.

5. Be creative and think of ways you’re comfortable with to communicate your information.

8 thoughts on “Afraid of Public Speaking?

  1. Excellent advice, Ivan. As President of the Professional Speakers Association UK, I see very many corporate speakers at events I attend. I wish they would all take note of these tips, get a little coaching, and cut their speeches by 50%. The world would be a much happier place.

  2. Your suggestions are simple and yet so effective, Ivan, when speakers think to apply them.

    I’d like to add one more, which is at the core of reducing nervousness and being an effective communicator: Make it about the audience.

    Once you start thinking about how best to serve the audience’s needs and how to give them something of value, you stop thinking so much about yourself.

  3. One way to get both experience and feedback on public speaking, AND to network, is to join Toastmasters. The clubs are very supportive, and the manuals guide you to better speaking and leadership skills. I joined Toastmasters to increase my visibility and credibility, both in that club, and out in the community. My club has a speaker’s bureau, offering members chances to speak to organizations in the community, again adding to visibility and credibility. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I may not get up at the meeting each week and ask for referral’s like I do at BNI and the Chamber of Commerce, but being a part of the club makes people aware of me in a more social way, which is also important to my business by referral business plan.

  4. Your suggestions are crystal clear and of course simple. One need to practice well with passion to feel simple.Also periodic reading of such content also helps to get in auto-correction mode.

  5. I went to college at Virginia Military Institute and we were required to take a public speaking class, complete with video tape etc. I later joined Toast Masters for about a year and hone these skills. The best advice I give people is that the people in the audience are glad they are not up there and probably don’t know much about what you are speaking of. BNI is also helpful. Whenver you speak if front of people who you know will be supportive, your confidence will grow.

  6. After three years of presenting to groups going through career counseling at the Salvation Army in Toronto’s inner city, I’m finally launching myself as a paid keynote speaker, and I’m excited. Ten years earlier I would have fainted at the thought, but the three ‘P’s … preparation, practise and ‘priming’ myself have made all the difference; that, and a little book written by J. Lyman MacInnis called “The Elements of Great Public Speaking”. I think it made the New York Times ‘Best Seller’ list. It is short and sweet (140 pages including chapter summaries) and well-organized, and made the difference for me when last year with only two days notice I was asked to give a speech in Portland, Oregon to a group of 150. Even the venue staff complimented me.

    As far as “priming” goes, on arrival at the venue I tell myself that I’m excited to be there, can’t WAIT to speak, and also make note that people are there to hear my story of success in the wake of adversity as published in “Live Your Dreams: Doctor’s Orders” by Dr. Samuel Gerstein with a foreword written by Jack Canfield. The priming kills the butterflies.

    I hope that helps.

  7. hi,

    such outstanding advice,thank you so much,first of all, i delivered my presentation 15 years ago and now i’m a public speaking coach. the issue of fear is something common and no body can overcome it myself included. the only way to overcome it is to learn how to give a presentation even while you are afraid.

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