It has happened to you! Cold sweats! Heart racing! People looking at you and your mind goes blank! Afterwards, you thought, “I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN!” I directed a question to folks on Facebook. The question was to people who fear public speaking. I asked them what they thought caused them fear. Interestingly, all responses were able to be placed in two categories. The first category was “preparation”. (Need to hear part uno of this post… CLICK HERE!) The second category we will address today is “Looks.”
People find themselves fearful when speaking to groups. Their fears manifest in questions such as “what if they judge me,” “what if my zipper is down,” and “what if I can’t keep their attention”. Please understand these fears attack every speaker. In this post, we will look at how we should address this major category. Take heart and know that you can speak with confidence to any group. The following techniques will help you tremendously! (This might help… 7 things to consider when speaking… CLICK HERE.)
Dress up – People generally give credibility to those who look nice. This is a general principle and does not always hold up. So dress a little better than the audience. Know ahead of time what your audience will look like and dress one step above. This will give you confidence. Do yourself a favor and look in a mirror before you go on stage (NOTE: check your zipper and your nose for even more confidence :)).
Not that much – Don’t dress so much above the audience that it is a distraction. Dressing up too much can cause judgement or even laughter in your direction. One of the worse outcomes could be that members of the audience feel like they do not belong there because they are so under-dressed. It is easy to be overly self aware and that can become a distraction. Be confident and dress appropriately (NOTE: did I mention that you should look in a mirror and confirm that your zipper is up and that your nose… is… ummm… well… you know… “no bats in the belfry”?).
Body language before speaking – There is evidence that body language can produce confidence. I am no expert in that topic but I have experienced it. Please take a few moments and watch social psychologist, Amy Cuddy. She does a great job of communicating the power of body language. (Click Here) After watching Amy’s TED Talk I learned how to utilize her techniques before speaking. It has been very empowering! Use it and see!
Body language while speaking – It seems that there is always a stat for how much of our interpersonal communication is found in our body language. There is some debate on which stat is correct but don’t miss the point! A large amount of our communication is through body language. So we must be careful as to how we stand (are we crossing our arms, is our back to a portion of the audience too long, etc.). You will gain additional credibility with good non-verbals!
Visualize – I mentioned this one in part uno (You probably want to CLICK HERE.). However, this is an important part of how you look. As stated in part uno, “Take some time to visualize the entire message. How will people respond to you? How do you want them to respond to you? How will you best facilitate that response?” This technique will help to build confidence.
Pray – All of the above mentioned stuff is great! However, there is something calming and affirming about spending time in prayer. Speaking to the Creator about the message He has put on your heart and empowered you to speak is necessary to prepare yourself and others! God hears our prayers! He cares and loves you! (Want to know about God’s love… CLICK HERE)
YOU GOT THIS!!! You do not have to fear! You do not have fret! You have been created with purpose and a message! Boldly, speak it! Remember, you have been given the ability that is needed and you will be amazed as you practice these techniques at how you have confidence and a message that will help others. (Check out this blog on being created on purpose and with purpose).
For advance techniques that will really help you feel comfortable upfront please see Josh Foer’s TED Talks (Click here for advance techniques.) If you have other ideas please post below! I would love to hear from you!