Everybody loves to share their experiences, interesting anecdotes and incidents from daily life. We love to talk to our friends, family, neighbors, strangers,..anybody, everybody..! We feel good when people listen to our stories and appreciate it or relate to it. If we can talk to two or more friends, why can’t we talk in front of a 100 people?
If you had read my previous post – Take The First Step, you would know how disastrous my first at attempt at public speaking was. I didn’t speak even a word. My head was empty with no words to utter. My mouth was dry. For a moment the earth stood still. Totally blanked out. That’s Stage Fright. I know it, I have experienced it. But I got rid of it .
How did I overcome? How did I handle my fear and shyness?
I did a few things. I followed some practices. Not by reading a book. Not through anybody’s advice. I did these on my own because I wanted to talk. I know I could, but I needed some reassurance and practice.
Here are those few things I did in order to get rid of stage fright and shyness; that helped me talk even in front of a large audience with confidence. I’m not being boastful. Am not an expert either. I just want you to know that, a scared chicken could roar too. If I can, then you too can.
These steps helped me; I hope it helps you too.
Shall we now move on to the Simple-Steps to getting rid of stage fright and shyness? Are you ready?
If yes, here we go!
1. Listen More, Read More
The first reason one gets scared while talking in front of an audience is because of the thought: “what if I forget what I want to say??“. Well, the answer to that question is, you won’t forget it unless you are not thorough in that area. Listen more; read more. Get to know more details than what is required so that even if you forget one point, you will remember something else. Only you know that you forgot a point, the audience don’t! So, first of all remove the fear of “forgetting”. Be clear with want you want to say. Do adequate research. Be well equipped with your ideas.
Note: A knowledgeable speaker is always respected. 🙂
When you prepare a draft on your own, you are not only writing it on a paper, you are also writing it in your memory! Now, the fear of forgetting is cleared ‘twice’. Moreover, you will know the flow of your speech. Imagine yourself as the listener. You like listening to stories more than a boring news report! Make a draft about your story. It could be your company’s Annual Finance Report or your paper on Advanced Network Security and Cryptography or a demonstration of your Paper Quill Designs!! Now, all you have to do is, get ready to narrate your favorite, well prepared story to the people who would love to listen to you!
Am splitting the Preparation into three segments. (a) Practise (b) Rehearse (c) Demo. They are similar, but there is a difference in each step. Read along to know more.
Before moving on to the main preparation, there are three pointers one must keep in mind:
- Body Language – not only for others, but for you too.
<1> Know the terminologies. Improve your vocabulary on the subject. If it is about a car, you should know what a carburetor and fuel injection is. If it is about music, you should know about the instruments, notes and keys! You won’t search for words in the middle of your speech if you have a sound vocabulary. You won’t use the same words over and over again either!
<2> Be loud and clear. Drink ample water and relax your mouth and throat. Your mouth shouldn’t become dry. Your throat shouldn’t strain. If you are loud enough, you will automatically gain some confidence in your presentation.
<3> Body language is not only for others, it is for you too. People tend to stick their hands close to their body, stand rigid like a pole! Don’t do that blunder! Move freely across the dais. People like movement, they won’t feel bored. Their eyes have work, to follow your movement. So they won’t fall asleep either. In case you have a podium, you can’t move. In such a situation, wave your hands (not too much), make sure your elbows are away from your body. This not only engages your audience, but helps you too. It improves ventilation, relieves tension, regulates breathing and blood flow. It will help you think clearly and talk without stammering.
Shut the door, close the windows. Take a hair brush or a doll mic, stand in front of the mirror and talk. Imagine yourself as Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King, choose your own favorite presenter or a public speaker. If you like to be original, imagine yourself as “The Greatest Speaker”.
Talk anything. Face yourself first. Shed your shyness. Listen to your own voice. Accept yourself. Embrace your quality.
Suggestion : Give a crazy report on your current hairstyle, present your new cosmetic product, host a talk show-gossip about your favorite actor, do a Shakespearean monologue, demonstrate your art work, interview yourself as a new celebrity ambassador for UNICEF, host a cooking show, be a radio jockey, try your own version of “Emma Watson’s ” speech – “He for She”.
My personal favorite is that of a King’s/Queen’s/Boss’ body language during a speech. So royal, bold and elegant! 😉
Try a variety of stuff. Look at yourself in the mirror, experiment with your voice, expressions and body language. Evaluate yourself. Build your confidence.
This a very important stage. Rehearsal. Once you are ready with your draft and you are no longer afraid of forgetting the content and have shed your shyness that you harbor within yourself, you start rehearsing what you want to say, This time, it is serious. You narrate your story exactly the same way you would like to present in front of an audience. But once again, do it in front of a mirror, alone.
Next, face the empty room, imagine a huge audience now. If you want, place some chairs or a couch. Now try the same. You have more space to look at, more distractions to keep in mind. Imagination is very important. Practice until you get it right.
Who would support you better than your friends and family? You need not make them listen to the New Business Strategies of your company. Instead, you can bring in your latest laptop or your painting and show it to them during tea time. Stand in the front and demonstrate. Present your piece! Sounds very simple, easy and doable. Isn’t it? Your family and friends are your first best audience. Give a demo performance. Now you can manage an audience of 5-10 people! You will obviously do well because it is not a serious presentation, it is a friendly chat. It is not a serious topic either, you know what you are talking about. You are only narrating your story. Moreover, only you know that it is your demo speech and presentation. 😉
Note: The three steps do help a lot. Try it. 🙂
Do you know why you are not afraid while you narrate your stories and present in front of your family and friends? Is it because you connect with them. You are not afraid of being judged. You are not afraid that you might sound boring. You speak your heart out.
But here’s an important point, your audience in general are like minded people like you. They are there because they are interested in listening to you. Look at them, feel connected. They are not strangers, they are fellow human beings who share your interests. Have eye contact while you talk. Smile at them, they will smile back at you. Eases the aura doesn’t it? Relax and connect with the audience. There’s nothing to be afraid. There’s no reason to feel shy. You can talk to your pals, you can talk to these people too! The only difference is you talk in front of them and not with them!
5. Be Passionate
If you are passionate about something, you won’t be afraid to take a leap! Be passionate towards what you do. Your passion will reflect in your speech. Your interest in the subject will make it interesting for the audience. You will not worry about the audience or your ability to present if you are really into it. Your concentration would be focused on conveying the content clearly to the listeners and not on how you do it while you are on stage. Your well trained body and your well prepared brain will take care of your presentation skills while you immerse yourself in the subject. Blissful! isn’t it?
Try these steps if you find them applicable to you. It takes time. But a sincere effort can take you farther than you imagine. All you need is passion and relentless effort. Wish you all the best!
Hope it was helpful. Feel free to leave your comments. 🙂