Ask the people you know what they fear. More likely than not, you’ll get a lot of “fear of public speaking” or “presenting in meetings” as some of the top responses. It’s a common fear many people share. On the plus side, it’s the type of fear people can overcome.
When in a large audience, in meetings or a large party, it’s easy to spot who are the gregarious extroverts from the reserved introverts. There are many misconceptions about introverts; they’re not all that shy.
It may come as a surprise but many prominent figures and presenters are actually introverts behind their confident persona. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Emma Watson and Eleanor Roosevelt are introverts and the list goes on. Even actors such as Meryl Streep—three-time Academy Award winner—is a reserved and introverted person. Who knew?
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So for those of you who share the same fear and personality, fret not. Introverts may enjoy a hushed environment and being alone with their thoughts but contrary to their personality, they can be confident speakers as well. Overcome your fear of public speaking and develop a confident persona on stage, right on time for your speech.
Preparation won’t hurt
This is probably the oldest trick in the book: preparation is key to nailing an astounding presentation or speech. Take the time to craft every sentence, story and example thoroughly and logically. Also, if you need statistics and other data to support your statement, get your hands on those numbers and evidence.
This isn’t only practiced and advised to introverts. It’s also recommended by established speakers. Don’t dread practicing your speech out loud, it’s one of the easy ways to make you more comfortable when the time has come. Practice your presentation out loud so you can hear your voice, tone, and notice your other mistakes. It’s easier to point out where you go wrong or sound off that way.
Add to that your mental preparation. If you let your nerves take over your whole body and presentation, that’s where everything will go wrong. Meditate and perform breathing exercises before you step onto the podium.
Determine your strengths and weaknesses
You wouldn’t dare talk about sports if it isn’t your cup of tea, right? Don’t pretend to know more about a field you’re not into and don’t try to be someone else on stage. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
Do you have a great sense of humor? Deliver your punchlines on stage. Add a pinch of humor to your presentation here and there. Focus on your strengths. Just because a certain tactic worked for a particular speaker doesn’t mean it can work the same for you.
See public speaking as a performance
It is a performance, though. Delivering a speech or presentation is a performance in nature. Many speakers sought after acting coaches as well to teach them acting techniques that would help them overcome their stage fright and better deliver presentations.
People love dressing up as fictional characters or impersonate other people. It gives them a sense of liberty and somehow, the mask creates a different persona which then boosts their confidence. It’s the same for speakers. Actors claim the stage; speakers own the podium.
Take note of other speakers
Surely you need a little push and motivation, don’t you think? Watch TED talk presentations and the likes and take a cue from them. Here’s Susan Cain’s The power of introverts to warm up your nerves.
And here’s Chris Anderson’s TED’s Secret to Great Public Speaking.
Watch and take note: notice what kind of ice-breakers they use and how effective they are, how they seem to construct their presentation, how they introduce their topic, how they engage with their audience, their body language, how they educate their audience, how they closed their presentation?
Not everyone is born leaders and great speakers, but it’s a skill even the most timid can learn, practice and develop over time.
Your nerves can get the best of you during these times so it’s critical to keep a clear head and focused mind. Otherwise, you might scramble your statements and disconnect from the audience.
Keeping your mindset firm and clearly directed towards your goal, you won’t get distracted by people checking on their smartphones or those who are falling asleep. Your mind will instead, focus on those who are listening. Don’t cut the connection between you and the audience only because of the sleep guy at the back of the room.
Your focus is to deliver your message across clearly and to make an impact on your audience. Fill your mind with positive and warm thoughts.
Give yourself credit
Once you’re on the podium, you wouldn’t even notice the time. So the moment it’s over, do congratulate yourself for your performance. Sure it may not be perfect or flawless than you hoped it to be, or it could be for some; still, congratulate yourself for your bravery.
Stir away from remembering the mistakes you had committed, the points you forgot and missed, the things you didn’t that you should’ve, and the likes. Instead, focus on the courageousness you’ve demonstrated on stage—it’s another milestone for your quest of achievement. You deserve all the credit, don’t deprive yourself of it just because of a few minor mishaps.
If you think you’re introverted self is far from being the next Gates or Zuckerberg, you’re obviously wrong. These techniques will help you take the stage and become a more confident speaker.
Any other tips and techniques you have under your sleeve? Share it with us!
About Chie Suarez
Aside from providing tips and hacks in personal and career development, Chie Suarez is also a resident writer for The Fordham Company — one of Australia’s top celebrity management companies and a major celebrity speakers bureau.