Did you know that the fear of public speaking rates higher than the fear of snakes?
While some leaders appear born to the podium and make public speaking look effortless, most people need to work hard to cool those nerves and master the stage.
When expert on the topic, Grant Withrington spoke to AIM recently on the art of presentations, he outlined some useful tips for managers looking to overcome their public speaking fears:
1. Remember that nobody wants you to fail
When you’re standing up on the podium looking out to your audience, it can feel like everybody who is watching is judging you, waiting for you to slip up or make a mistake. But this is irrational thinking. The truth is that audiences don’t want you to fail – they want you to succeed. View them as your allies and supporters. It will help you feel more comfortable and less alone as you deliver your speech.
2. You are the subject matter expert – they are here to learn from you
If you have colleagues or even your own boss sitting in an audience watching you speak, it can feel daunting. But it’s important to remember that you have been chosen to speak on this topic for a reason. You are the expert, delivering the information – they are here to learn from you. You have something worthwhile to share and have no reason to feel inadequate.
3. Imagine yourself on the stage before you actually perform your presentation
The more times you do an activity, the more confident you feel and the better you get at doing it. It’s the same with presentations. If it’s your first time, simply imagine yourself in the room, at the podium, delivering the content. Imagine looking out to the audience. Go through it in your mind. Then when you do it for real, you’ll already feel like you’ve done it before and feel more comfortable.
4. Take deep breaths
As simple as it sounds, deep breathing can do wonders for your nerves. Take deep breaths that calm you down and take a moment to be still, calm and at peace.
5. Don’t forget that nerves are normal – they keep you on your feet
Feeling a small amount of nerves will always be normal. The most accomplished speakers still feel nervous before a presentation. In fact, it is healthy to feel nervous as it keeps you energised and ensures you are fully engaged with what you’re about to do. All you need to do is ensure that your nerves can be controlled and don’t overwhelm you.
If you are a nervous speaker and have avoided it throughout your career thus far, it’s important to remember how valuable public speaking is as a leadership skill.
Managers that can tell powerful stories and deliver hard-hitting presentations have the potential to inform, persuade, motivate, convince and entertain as needed. The ability to engage an audience can make all the difference in communicating the message you are trying to deliver as a leader.
During his 12 years in the RAAF, Grant Withrington discovered a love for teaching and public speaking. He has 15 years commercial enterprise experience and is currently a popular presenter and educational facilitator.