Public speaking is so many peoples worst nightmare! Standing in front of people, wanting desperately to sound confident and eloquent but fear overpowering your voice stops you from doing it. Here’s how to overcome that fear to not only speak publicly, be it to 5 or 5000, but to truly become world class!
In a recent interview with Clinton Young, international keynote speaker and world class coach to aspiring speakers, he shared with me his journey to finding his passion for speaking, helping others do the same, how to do it effectively, and most definitely , how to overcome the fear.
In 2008, with the collapse of the economy, Young lost everything. His properties, his business, his credit. He felt dead inside, humiliated, no hope, and disconnected from the world outside. He also felt let down because up until that point he had been flying high on life, always trusting his intuition and it never failing him.
While undertaking one of his what he calls, ‘black sheep habits’, of a mindful walk in nature, it dawned on him that in fact his intuition had not let him down, but it was quite the opposite. He had failed to listen and notice the warning signs that then led him to that devastating point, and in that moment of realisation, embraced his spiritual journey to finding his purpose and passion.
He had a clear vision of wanting to add value to peoples’ lives, to be standing on his feet, speaking to people. He stepped into the fear by putting himself forward for opportunities.
“The magic is the intersection between the knowingness that something is right for you, and the unknowingness of how you are going to do it. The fear is on the side of not knowing. That is the fear and step into it! In order to do that, we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Young continues “Life happens and our purpose is revealed to us in that zone of stretching – that expansion – when something that lights us up and we feel called to do it. That’s when we can step through that fear.”
It seems the key to overcoming the fear is the belief and understanding that the message you have is relevant and important enough to outweigh the fear.
He also shared some valuable principals of how to become not only proficient at speaking, but a true world class speaker. He explained that speaking is an essential leadership skill to inspire others, whether you are standing on stage in front of thousands or talking to a team of just a few.
1-Shift Your Energy From Your Head To Your Heart
When you are standing up ready to speak, it’s the head that starts to trigger the fear, telling you stories that you might embarrass yourself or good old imposter syndrome creeps in questioning how worthy you actually are.
Shift your concern from yourself to your audience and recognise the privilege it is to be sharing something of significant to others, that is not about you.
2- Speak To Your Audiences Pain Points
When people feel understood, they engage so much more with what is being said. We switch off when someone is talking and you just can’t relate to it. Take some time to research and identify what the collective pain is in the room so that you can tailor what you are saying to them. This comes back to it not being about you, but about others, and your ability to help them.
3- Tell Stories
According to Young, a great talk should consist of 70% stories and 30% facts. “People don’t remember what you do or say; they remember how you make them feel.” He goes on to explain that when we are delivering facts, our brain waves are not in sync. However, when we start to tell stories, the brain waves between eh speaker and the audience resonate in unison, so we become more connected and engaged. He also advises that stories should be told in the present tense and that they can be as short and succinct as testimonials and metaphors.
4- Create Contrast
A contrast may be speed of voice, where we need to slow down to explain theories and facts, but can speed up to reflect excitement and create visuals. It can also include using different tools of learning so video versus lecture for example. Even writing with different coloured pens if you are leading a team meeting can be a powerfully effective contrast, according to Young. Contrast maintains attention and draws your audience in.
Clinton also explains that once you put yourself forward for opportunities and allow yourself to be open to feedback, your awareness deepens, your skills improve, and in turn your confidence grows. The key is to find the courage, and keep on going. Certainly a metaphor for life. His program helps aspiring speakers with all this as well as engaging with that heart-centred desire to help you overcome the fear.
Dr Rana Al-Falaki helps professionals re-ignite their passion so they can enjoy more success in every aspect of their lives. She is the host of Be Free, Be Fun, Be Fearless podcast, and can be contacted through her website.