You’re getting nervous.
As you carefully walk towards the center of the stage in front of a huge crowd, negative thoughts suddenly come into your mind like:
“What if I stumble over my words?”
“What if I forget about the topic I’m going to discuss?”
“What will I do if there’s dead air?”
A lot of people exhibit a natural fear for public speaking. In fact, according to a report from the United States National Institute of Mental Health, about 73% of the world’s population is affected by this type of fear.
According to Chris Anderson in his book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” people have a natural tendency to fear public speaking because there’s a lot of things at stake―not just in the moment, but in their long-term reputation as well.
However, with a proper mindset, you (as a speaker) can turn this fear into an incredible asset, the driver that will motivate you to prepare for your presentation properly.
An example of this is American television personality and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Lewinsky has had her fair share of a public humiliation that stemmed from the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal in 1998.
[Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal: A political scandal in the United States that involved alleged sexual relations between former US President Bill Clinton and Lewinsky, when she was working as an intern at the White House.]
After years of staying away from the limelight, Lewinsky decided to return to a “more visible public life” by participating in several public speaking engagements―one of which was delivering a talk on the TED stage.
Lewinsky knew she wasn’t an experienced public speaker. When asked about how she felt during that time, she said knowing that her talk would be made public on a widely viewed platform reminded her of the trauma from years of being publicly ridiculed.
With the help of a few public speaking tips and techniques, Lewinsky was able to turn her public speaking fear around. She even managed to get a standing ovation from the audience.
Her talk was publicly posted and it generated millions of views online. It also prompted an apology from her long-time critic, feminist author Erica Jong.
“The Boy with a Lion Heart”
Anderson believes that PRESENTATION LITERACY is important in every public speech.
This pertains to your competency and ability to deliver GREAT and MEMORABLE presentations in front of your audience.
Even though you might not be leading an organization at the moment, Anderson says “a talk can still open new doors or transform a career.”
Take for example the case of a 12-year old boy from Kenya, Richard Turere.
Being a part of a family that raised cattle for a living, Turere knew that one of the biggest challenges in their cattle farm was lion attacks. Upon noticing that lions were afraid of moving lights, he invented his own system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence, creating a notion of movement.
Turere’s invention proved successful as the lion attacks stopped. News of his device spread throughout his village and other nearby villages. Soon after, a lot of farm people also installed his “lion lights” to prevent attacks from farm predators.
Turere was contacted by various organizations to deliver a talk about his invention. However, aside from being painfully shy, his English speaking skills were halting and he had difficulty describing his invention coherently.
In the months before his actual presentation, Turere received coaching sessions from various public speaking professionals to help him frame his story. He also won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, where he was able to practice his presentation in front of a live audience.
These training sessions helped Turere build his confidence in front of a crowd and by the time he delivered his actual presentation, he was able to get his message across properly. When he finished his talk, people stood up from their seats and applauded him.
Just like Turere and Lewinsky, you are also capable of delivering a decent and effective presentation, especially with practice and the help of a few tips. You just need to have the courage and confidence to do it.
Remember: When you present in front of an audience, you don’t have to be like the other great speakers in history such as Winston Churchill or Nelson Mandela.
You only have to be YOU!
You don’t have to pretend to have some “big intellectual styles” in your presentations or elicit a standing ovation from your audience with an intense and passionate oration. Sometimes, conversational presentations can work just as well with your audience.
It all depends on who you really are―your style, technique, way of communication, and how you want to be remembered.
If you know how to initiate and sustain conversations with your family or friends over a meal, then you know enough to speak in front of an audience.
Aside from that, due to a lot of technological advancements, there are now times when you don’t have to speak to thousands of people LIVE in order to make a huge impact. It could just be you, talking to a camera and then letting the Internet do its job to spread your message.
If you use these technologies to your advantage as a speaker, it will help open up more opportunities for you to progress in your career.
More importantly, if you commit to being who you naturally are as a speaker, you’ll be able to engage with your audience in a more relaxed manner and deliver your message effectively.
Delivering a presentation in front of an audience can really be overwhelming at times but with the right tools, ample training, and a positive mindset, you’ll be able to make a lasting impact just like other great and effective speakers.
“Presentation literacy isn’t an optional extra for the few. It’s a core skill for the 21st century. It’s the most impactful way to share who you are and what you care about. If you can learn to do it, your self confidence will flourish, and you may be amazed at the beneficial impact it can have on your success in life, however you might choose to define that.” – Chris Anderson
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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