One of the biggest fears people have it speaking in front of an audience. Whether it be public speaking, making a presentation or delivering a sales pitch – the moment we stand up in front of those whom are sitting, our fear appears. I’ve heard people say that public speaking is more frightening than bungee jumping! Well, it doesn’t have to be that way… I mean… we don’t have to fear speaking in front of groups, nor do we have to go bungee jumping!
Most of the time, when we fear speaking in front of a group, it is a fear or what would happen. In our minds, we see pictures and videos of ourselves failing, making mistakes or getting laughed at by the audience. But the truth is – all of that has not happened yet! So who is making us afraid? Our own minds are playing tricks on ourselves. Our brain is so intelligent – and it looks for ways to protect ourselves. For example, when we walk down a dark alley in the middle of the night, our brain thinks of what dangers may exist, so that our senses start to be on alert for those dangers appearing. But practically, we probably will walk out of that dark alley unharmed, but the entire journey through it, we were on alert. Our brain puts us on alert for dangers which may happen to us – and when speaking on front of an audience, those dangers are: saying the wrong things, getting rejected, losing the audience’s engagement, etc.
Stop playing tricks on yourself. The only person that is making you afraid is yourself! To quickly reduce your fear and feel confidence to deliver your pitch, here are a few tips which works for most people:
1. Breath slowly – if you’ve ever practiced yoga, you would know the importance of breathing and how it impacts your body. The same applies here, breathing in a slower pace would allow yourself to re-focus your attention and energy to where you want it to be. Breath slowly and think of how much you have practiced, how well you know your material and how you were successful before in the past. Think of all the things and people that could support you throughout your pitch, even through the most difficult situations. Take each deep inhale to gain energy and exhale to release the fear you had before.
2. Smile – yes, as simple as it sounds, it works! When we smile, we are usually feeling better emotions, more relaxed emotions. Smiling also shows confidence – even through the most difficult situations. When you are speaking to others, nervousness would limit our ability to smile. However, when you do not smile or even frown, how would the audience feel? Then what would the audience do with their facial expressions? If the audience frowns at you, how would YOU then feel? Would you smile, or find it difficult to smile? When that happens, what happens to your facial expressions? Again – when the audience sees this facial expression on you, how will they feel? Will it affect their attention to your words? It is a never ending loop! Break the loop! Smile, and show the audience you are confident and willing to engage with them! It is those that are strong, that are able to smile through challenging times.
3. Practice – mom always said “practice makes perfect…” Well, we don’t need you to be perfect here, but we do need you to be confident. Practice gives you confidence to deliver your pitch with impact. When we have rehearsed, we know our place in the pitch presentation, we can quickly find where we left off, in case we get interrupted during the pitch. Practice also allows us to see where we can fine tune, edit, change to make an even better impact. In my workshops, I usually make participants practice in front of a camera – this way, they can see their own performance and have stronger awareness of what they need to improve upon. Caution: Watching yourself on camera can be an uncomfortable experience!
If we can further give you tips on how to make a stronger impact for your pitch presentation, please let us know. We’d be happy to hear where you have questions, what challenges you may have faced, or what are the most common areas you see people struggling with. Remember, we all learn continuously and develop continuously throughout life. That’s why our hashtag is #winlearngain