5 Tips to Knockout Fear of Public Speaking
Give Fear the Finger:
By Diane DiResta
What if we lived in a world without fear? What would it be like to be fearless in business? What if you could give fear the finger?
Today, more than ever before, you success depends on how well you present yourself, your message, and your value. And yet, too many people are afraid of speaking in public. Avoiding public speaking is career suicide especially for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Speaking is the most cost effective and underutilized marketing strategy. “Speakmarketing” accelerates the know, like, trust factor because the audience gets to “ taste test” you and your products and services. Speaking is your brand. If you can’t explain what you do and who benefits, you’ll lose selling opportunities. As the CEO, if you don’t sound like an executive, your buyers will lose confidence in your company and in you as the leader.
Clearly, the issue is not whether you should be out there speaking. The issue is why are you fearful and what can you do about it?
After 20 years speaking and coaching leaders across diverse industries, I’ve discovered that there are a number of reasons people, especially women, fear speaking and one of the biggest reasons is perfection.
THE BUSINESS OF PERFECTION
A business owner was referred to me by a mutual acquaintance. Sue, (not her real name), was a success as the CEO of her own business. Sue was no shrinking violet. She worked in a male dominated field, and as a result, she knew how to talk to the guys. There was no gender gap here. She held her own in any meeting but especially in social settings. The problem was when the group size grew beyond five people her anxiety levels shot up. She would get tongue-tied and be unable to retrieve her words. What was evident was Sue was living in her head. Sue was trying to say everything perfectly. It was her need for perfection and not her tongue,that was tying her up.
When you live in your head you’re living in the future. You’re imagining what could go wrong. Sue needed to come back to the present moment. By focusing on the breath and giving her a physical anchor, Sue was willing to try out her new learning.
At her next networking meeting, she awaited her turn to speak before 30 people about her business.
At the second coaching session, Sue reported her success. Normally, Sue would experience waves of anxiety washing over her by the time the third person would speak. This time, she remained completely calm and she finished her elevator speech without a hitch. Once she finished speaking that‘s when she started to feel heated and flushed.
The good news is she interrupted her pattern. In one session she was able to use the skills to stay calm when speaking to a larger group. She literally gave fear the finger!
Before you start thinking that she used an obscene gesture, what she did was to press on an acupressure point on her finger.. There is a nerve that goes from the finger to the heart and by pressing on that point, it short circuits anxiety. (Learn about it in the ebook Give Fear the Finger).
THE MAGIC CURE
In every seminar I deliver, nine out of ten people are there because they don’t want to feel nervous when giving a presentation or speech. They’re in search of some magic elixir to cure their stage fright. Here’s the truth: there is no cure. But there are principles that will help you to feel more confident. Confidence comes down to this: mind set and skill set. Success starts in the mind.
As Sue learned, first you must program your thinking. Then you need to learn the skills that make you look and sound confident. Here are some tips to make you feel more confident.
1.Visualize the positive. Athletes know how to win. They start by visualizing the endgame. In one study about the power of mental programming, two basketball teams were selected. Team one practiced daily by shooting balls into the hoop. Team two only did mental practice. They envisioned shooting the ball into the basket with their minds. The team that did the mental practice performed as well if not better than the team that engaged exclusively in physical practice. It’s the same in business. The first sale is to yourself. When you begin your sales presentation, do you anticipate success?
2.Speak in present tense. What are you saying to yourself? Call in confidence now—not in the future. The subconscious mind is obedient and literal. It takes you at your word.. The most powerful words are I AM. When you say “I am confident”, “I am knowledgeable”, “I am concise,” you call success into the here and now. Words create reality.
3.Breathe from the belly. When feeling anxious, most people hold their breath. The remedy is to breathe through fear with deep belly breaths. Deep abdominal breathing will slow down a racing heartbeat. By focusing on your breath, you’ll come back to the present and calm your mind.
4.Set a physical anchor. Think of a romantic song and it will transport you to the time and place you heard it. You’ll be flooded with memories and emotions. That’s because that song has become an anchor. You can use a physical anchor to eliminate fear. Simply remember a time you felt VERY confident. It doesn’t have to be a presentation. Now recall how you felt at the very moment of that success. Where was that feeling in your body? What did you hear, see, feel, smell? At the very moment you relive that success, press your thumb and index finger together so that you seal the memory. Right before the next presentation, press your fingers together and feel the confidence.
5.Pause. Nervous speakers rush through the presentation. By pausing, you’ll have time to breathe and collect your thoughts. You’ll also sound more confident. Speak in soundbites by breaking up your sentence into smaller parts. Count two or three beats of silence at the end of every sentence to allow your message to land in the minds of the listeners.
For more confidence building tips, read the ebook, Give Fear the Finger.
Diane DiResta is Founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact — whether one-to-one, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform. DiResta is the author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an Amazon.com category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses and Give Fear the Finger. www.diresta.com