In my earlier blog on communication, we set out with one simple task of deciphering the conundrum that public speaking is. We established that communication was a skill that not only held great importance in the corporate sphere, but in fact in practically every aspect of life. We left off rather abruptly (if I must say so) with two deceptively simple questions: What causes fear of public communication? And how does one overcome it?
Let's get right to the crux of the issue, shall we?...
So what is the root behind stage fright?
Maybe it's because you're too self-conscious in front of strangers? Or a fear that the audience is judging you? Or because of some past failures you may have encountered? Or the most basic of all: you didn't prepare enough?
Actually, stage fright is caused by everything I've listed above. And more. I'll be honest with you – I can't exactly pin point your reasons for stage fright. I can just give a range of reasons that are cited the most.
Let's peruse what we listed out above:
You're self-conscious in front of groups of strangers: This is probably the most cited cause. And understandably so. Talking to your friends versus talking to a big, intimidating crowd of strangers is a totally different ball game! Well, you overcome this by making it the same. Imagine the big group of strangers you're talking to is just an enlarged group of friends. Make the talk conversational – put in a dash of humour, crack a funny joke, make a lame pun – exactly like how you'd do it with your friends. (Although being too informal can be bad too. Analyse the situation and decide the level of “formality”)
You're afraid that people are judging you: It's obvious to think this. Why wouldn't people judge? It's normal human tendency, isn't it? Is it? Cold hard truth: it isn't. More likely than not, the audience does not care. They want to get some value out of your talk – they want their time to be worth it. So, indirectly, they're rooting for you to do well. They're on your side.
Past failures: Maybe the last time you attempted public speaking, you didn't do that great. That incident set the platform for a vicious cycle of self-doubt. Every time you get up on the stage, you doubt your abilities. You say to yourself “I'm going to fail again.” But there is no reason for the past to repeat itself. If you've dedicatedly prepared, you're going to do well. That brings us to our final point...
Lack of preparation: Nothing much to say here. If you haven't done enough practice before a presentation, you're bound to be fearful which will tell on your confidence. It's as simple as that!
To summarise what I said, here are the four major points you should keep in mind while public speaking:
• Prepare well, and practice before the big day
• Understand that the audience is on your side.
• Try and have a smooth flowing, conversational presentation.
• Don't dwell too much on the past. The present is all that matters!
Of course, as I said before, this list is not all encompassing. There may be several other causes I may have left out. This is just a list of a few basic principles that you should use as a springboard on the journey to becoming a public speaking professional!