Some advice on how to reduce fear of public speaking - Executips


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Some advice on how to reduce fear of public speaking

Katy Perry has stage fright. The musical firework who has four Guinness World Records is still a bit nervous because stage fright is common. So, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. Here, I can share with you a few tips on how to enjoy your stay on the podium.

1. Imagine the audience as your friends.

I usually come to the venue several minutes ahead of my presentation. I approach the people already there and engage them in small talk. I am not famous but I observe that people feel privileged to have a chat with the guest speaker. I trust that I recruit them as my allies. They will surely listen with an encouraging smile, laugh at my jokes, and applaud at the end. If I am not great at my talk, they will be forgiving.

Of course, I won’t be able to have a pre-show tete-a-tete with each member of the audience. But when I step onstage, I imagine all of them as my friends and speak as though I have known them for a long time. Aren’t we so relaxed when having a conversation with friends?

Do you know why I can do that? 

I have a friend who was the President of the country’s largest investment company. His corporate position can be intimidating. But because he is a friend, I have no fear of him. In fact, I often tease him. So, I have convinced myself that even senators or multi-millionaires in the audience are just normal, friendly, flawed human beings like me.

When I assume my audience to be my friends, my tone almost automatically becomes more pleasant. I don't sound like I preach or lecture. I become just like a friend enthusiastically sharing information and confident that I am not being judged. 

If I have an audience of less than fifteen, I approach each one and actually shake their hand. I add a joke about me running for office. I break the ice and achieve instant connection!

2. Remember Mark Twain

The literary icon famously said, “If you are telling the truth, you don’t have to memorize anything.”

I confess that I am never comfortable presenting a budget proposal for my department because I don’t understand a thing about finance and my CEO knows that too. I am sure many people also worry they might forget something they need to say in a speech or talk. 

If we have mastered the subject matter, if we know what we are talking about, if we truly believe in the idea or product we are pitching, we have nothing to worry about even when presenting before a panel of police investigators.

3. Don’t Wing It

Don’t be shy to follow a written script. Even world leaders read from a teleprompter.
The only challenge is how to deliver it with feeling.

Read the written speech several times until you become comfortable with every word. That’s what I do when asked to read the Bible in a Mass because there are so many hard-to-pronounce biblical names.

When you read, visualize how you will sound, what emotion you should convey, and what gesture you can use. That is the magician’s secret. When we can execute the sleight-of-hand without looking, we can focus on the presentation. The written speech is like the sleight-of-hand you have already mastered. Just focus on the presentation.

Finally, you don’t need to be perfect

Several studies have shown that audiences are not looking for someone perfect or superior. Even more endearing to them are presenters who are humble, genuine, warm, and human, warts and all.

You may also read my article: Why imperfection can be charming in the office on


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