Some people say they would prefer to die, rather than speak in public. What is it about public speaking that terrifies us so much?
There are many ways we can speak in public. On a stage, at a wedding, at school, at work, on line. We can speak in groups, large and small. The arenas are countless and the feeling always seems to be the same. Anything from anxiety, nerves, nausea, fear to downright terror.
I remember being 15 and standing up in front of the principal and giving her a long speech as to why I didn't want to give a long speech at assembly. It was ironic as the directness, passion and poise I seemed to present to her was fluid, focused and simple. If only I could have transferred that to the larger crowd.
So then, what is it about the crowd that has us quivering in our boots?
6 reasons why public speaking has us clenching our teeth and tearing our hair out.
The fear of being seen. The fear of not being seen. The fear of looking stupid or incompetent, The fear of judgement, being laughed at, humiliated. The fear of forgetting what it is we need to say. The fear of being persecuted or not accepted for who we are. Fear is a self-imposed prison, and you have the key.
2. Being dis-organised.
Not being prepared is disarming. Not understanding. Forgetting lines. Not being ordered or feeling a complication when it comes to what is required. Being forgetful and unclear does not give us confidence to speak.
3. Self Doubt.
Not feeling equipped or good enough. Not feeling like we have what it takes to speak to a group. Comparison and competitiveness, either with ourselves or and with others..
4. Lack of content.
What do I say? What can I say? What is worth saying and speaking about and who am I speaking to? Will I get it wrong or be misunderstood? Is what I have to say worthy?
6. Being seen.
What if we are afraid to truly show who we are, to shine. Is it a time to shine? Be powerful? Grand. Expressive. Be responsible? Then what? What happens when we just say it like it is?
The fear of speaking up with others blocks us from the flow of life. I
t develops avoidance and resistance to new experiences and robs us of the joy of being heard, seen and understood.
Speaking in public has a magical way
of gathering a group together
and holding a space.
It can unite the group. Inspire a team.
Pull up the crowd. Bond people.
Heal and ignite a collective feeling.
Speaking to all is providing a platform for
brotherhood to unite and expand.
8 powerful steps to feel more comfortable when speaking with groups or in public.
1. Check in.
Get in to your body. Get right in. Your body is your safe and steady place. Develop an ever deepening relationship with your body so that when you speak, you speak from your bodies lived experience, not from your heads knowledge. That way, you don't need to rehearse or remember content. Your body being still and settled is your preparation. Speak from who you are and what you know to be true.
2. Keep it simple.
What will you say? What is the content? If you have something to say. Say it. From your heart. directly and simply. If you have purpose when you speak, it will be felt and it will make sense. If you are suddenly asked to speak or feel to speak stay calm and simply respond with what you know.
3. Getting it wrong.
Be willing to sound silly or not have the 'right' thing to say. Part of our problem is our need to look good and sound good in front of others. Our need to be smooth and smart and cool and clever gets in the way of what we are trying to say. Accept that you may not always get it right and that's okay. Be willing to be vulnerable. Show your sweetness.
If you are concerned about being judged then reflect on where you have been critical or judging yourself, and bring more understanding to others. The less judgement or comparison you have, the more you will feel free to speak and not worry about what others think of you.
4. Know yourself. Be Yourself.
The more you know yourself, the easier it is to speak about anything. What do you have to say? Start small. Get used to having the attention on you. Even introducing yourself briefly may be a great way to break into the group, speak to a crowd and be heard. Work up from there. The more you practice speaking up the more comfortable you will feel.
Silence is consent.
Remember that if you feel the need to express
it may be in the best interest for all.
5. It's all about you.
Does it make a difference as to when you are fearful of speaking up? If you spoke to let everyone know instructions as apposed to a sensitive subject, would that make a difference? Are there certain people you are afraid to speak in front of? Certain groups?Know what triggers your fear around speaking up and address the core issues.
We all have a different flavour, when it comes to
speaking publicly and yours is exact for what you need to express.
Let the world know your unique style, your expression.
Start small and work your way up.
6. Intimate & Aware
Are you intimate with the crowd, with yourself? Remember, the 'crowd' is just one person. One plus ...one plus one... plus one. Let them get to know you and feel you and see you from every angle. Be willing to be transparent. Protection hardens you and keeps you separated from others. If it helps, connect with the group individually, prior to speaking. This will support you to feel like you are speaking with friends.
Speaking in public is an act of intimacy.
It asks you to let all in, equally.
To be vulnerable.
To be seen and felt for what you are,
a being expressing through a body.
Practice with one person, then two then three....
Being open to what ever it is that needs to be expressed is like knowing that you are a living vessel and knowing that you are simply delivering a message. It may be something simple, a statement, a question, a story, a response or a whole conversation. Stay connected, in your body and alert to who you are and who/what you are speaking to. You are responding to what is needed.
8. Be you.
We want to feel you, hear you, know you, the real you. Slow down when you speak. Each. word. matters. What you have to share matters. Allow people the space to settle in their bodies, as you settle into your body. Give them the room to listen to you and what you have to say. Your voice, your movements and your expression all matter. You matter. Give us all of you and you will feel the purpose of speaking in public.
The years have passed since I spoke with the Principal and denied myself that public speaking moment at assembly. Given the chance to do it again, would I? That's a question I ask myself and now looking back, I would like to say yes. Yes to feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Yes to speaking and being myself. Yes to making mistakes and that being okay. Yes to being a vessel and letting love come through.
How about you? Are you a public speaker? If not, what gets in your way, when it comes to delivering the message?