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7 fears of public speaking

In this blogpost I’m going to tell you the 7 fears of public speaking that my clients appointed and the ins and outs of how to handle them.

But before that… There’s a confession I want to make: I have the fear of flying.
Whenever I’ve got my tickets booked for a plane flight, instead of feeling joy and excitement, that a journey is approaching, I get sweaty palms, racing heart and automatically start to come up with excuses why I shouldn’t get on that plane. Then it gets even worse…

On the plane I keep imagining all those scenarios that you can see on movies. I imagine hearing one engine go silent… Then the other one… And then the plane dives into a slowly accelerating rush towards the ground. Or all of a sudden the plane falls out from the sky. I’ve already talked about this in one of my speeches.

I started working on this problem a while back and it got way better over the years.
This year I had four flights scheduled out of which I’ve already managed three successfully with steadily decreasing level of stress.

This fear of flying makes me understand how you feel when you have to give a speech and fear kicks in.

(If you want to know how to get from anxious to excited, you may download today’s freebie. To subscribe for today’s freebie, scroll down to the end of this blogpost.)

In this blogpost, we will concentrate on 7 of those fearful scenarios that my clients mention when we first start to work together.

The list of the 7 fears of public speaking

  1. What if I stumble across my leg?
  2. What if I forget my speech?
  3. What if I say something dumb?
  4. What if they don’t listen?
  5. What if they keep talking while I’m giving my speech?
  6. What if people start laughing at me?
  7. What if I accidentally leave my fly open?
    (Might be some ideas in the list above that you haven’t thought of… up until now ;))

With these in mind, no wonder you feel stressed when thinking of you giving a speech.

Ways to avoid the 7 fears of public speaking

If you want to feel more relaxed before a speech, you need to know the ways how to avoid the scenarios above.
Below are ideas that actually work when you want to make sure to take care of those 7 fears.

  • What if I stumble across my leg?

Force yourself to move slower, than you would in a stressful or even slower than in a regular situation. This will give you higher chance to avoid accidental missteps.
If you make steps on stage, don’t cross legs. You risk the chance to lose balance.
Be sure to wear shoes that you are comfortable with. If heels are not for you, but required, rehearse your speech in heels at home.

  • What if I forget my speech?

Don’t learn your speech by heart. Think of a few points that you want to talk about. Learn them with the memory palace method and talk freely about them. This way there is no specific sentence that you might have to recite during speech. Moreover, they will enjoy the freshness of your speech. (Nobody likes out-of-the-can speeches)

  • What if I say something dumb?

Talk about the topic with a friend. A lot… If you cover all aspects that might come up from your mind regarding the topic, you will decrease the chance of saying words or thoughts that are not relevant or sound dumb in the context. Think of what professional dancers do for instance. They practice their movements hundreds of times. So by the time they hit the stage they almost forget how to misstep, with this assuring to make the right steps on the right time.

  • What if they don’t listen

Make sure your speech has parts that surely grabs the audience’s attention. Build tension with suspense, ask questions (Can be rhetorical), use pause. Try it on friends how well they work.

  • What if they keep talking while I’m giving my speech?

There is nothing more powerful than having a huge pause until they look up, but in case that would not work out, prepare to tell your best attention grabbing, in medias res story you’ve ever had. (The message has to be relevant of course)

  • What if people start laughing at me?

There can be so many unexpected reasons that can make people laugh while you speak. It can be at you, with you or at something totally irrelevant, such as pigeons mating outside in the garden. You just have to accept this. Your job here is only to remain calm. Then you can either carry on with the speech either acknowledge the laugh with a simple sentence or make a joke out of it. (E.g.: “I wish I’d have said that on purpose”)

  • What if I accidentally leave my fly open?

Check before getting on stage. 😉
If a friend is nearby, then ask them to look at you and tell if any adjustment is needed to your outfit or some cleaning to any part of your face. (Nose, cheeks, lips, teeth)

What if they do happen?

Despite of every preparation, sometimes these fearful events can still happen. But believe it or not, they barely have any real effect on your respect and reputation.

Think of Jennifer Lawrence’s 2013 Oscars stumble Did it damage her reputation? No! It just made her more human.

It is all about integrity. If you walk the talk, then almost nothing can happen on stage, that should make you embarrassed. Just imagine Clint Eastwood or Robert Downey Jr. stumble while walking on stage. How would they react? Would they look at their shoes while repeatedly mumbling “Oh my, how embarrassing…”, or would they just get up, send a naughty grin and a wink to the camera and carry on?

If you walk up on stage with a firm belief that you were ment to be there, then you need to have no fear.

  • If you stumble across your leg
      You say “oops”, with a smile and get into your speech.
  • If you forget your speech
      You carry on from your heart.
  • If you say something dumb
      And they notice it, you say “My mistake”, with a smile and carry on.
  • If they don’t listen.
      Then stop. Don’t say a word . Wait for them to look at you. Smile. Then carry on.
  • If they keep talking
      Change tone: ask them about their opinion. Get them involved.
  • If they start laughing
      Stop, turn to the MC and ask “What is it that I don’t notice?” And when it turns out, just laugh with them.
  • If you accidentally leave your fly open
      If reminded of, then “oops”, and zip it.(If you don’t notice, then who cares?)

With the right attitude, you’ll never have to worry about being frowned upon. You will realize that there is no need to meet anyone else’s expectations other than yours. On the long haul, it is your character that you want to develop, not only your public speaking skills. This is what will give you the confidence and belief that will put you on stage full of excitement. This is what will make you looking forward to giving speeches and showing your true self to others both in private and public conversations.

So if you truly want to get rid of these fears, build your character. This is what Lead by Character is all about.

Wish it was that easy with flying as well… 🙂

After all these horrible images of failing, I’d like to leave you with a freebie that is all about the right mindset. In “From anxious to excited” I cover the 3 key thoughts of how you should approach anxiety and then the sentence which – asked at the right time – will lead you to excitement.

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