Do you have glossophobia or fear of public speaking? Don’t worry. You are not alone. Some experts say 75% of all people experience some form of anxiety or nervousness when they have to speak in public.
But you can solve your problem with a little practice and a new mental image of public speaking. You can join a Toastmasters International club to work through your glossophobia or you can practice at home in front of a mirror, family or friends. I am a member of Toastmasters, and I find it very comforting to think a speech as a three-course dinner.
Try this trick. Before your next talk at work or at a local community group, replace your negative image of public speaking with a delicious new image. Prepare your speech as you would a three-course meal. Think of your introduction, main points and ending as an appetizer, entrée and dessert—and you will enjoy your speaking experience more.
Don’t focus on how you will feel with everybody looking at you. Focus on the message you want to serve up to your audience and what you want them to think, feel or do in response to your message (meal):
1. Appetizer – A good appetizer or introduction wets the appetite for the main dish. Get off on the right foot with your audience and calm your nerves. Before you start talking, take a deep breath, smile and make eye contact with your audience. Make them want to hear your main points by getting their attention with a question, story or bold statistics. Relate the topic to them and give a brief overview of your topic (a quick tease).
2. Entrée – The main dish or the body of your speech should satisfy the audience’s hunger to hear your key points. Use stories, examples and humor to illustrate your meat and potatoes (your main points).
3. Dessert – A sweet dessert and a great closing should leave your audience wanting more. Make your ending memorable, like a mouth-watering cheesecake with fresh strawberries. Leave them with one point you want them to remember, a challenge to do something or a personal story that makes them laugh. Always end on a positive note.
Remember, re-direct your nervous energy into gestures and body movements that reinforce your message. Turn your uneasy frown into a smile and show enthusiasm for whatever you’re talking about. Like a good meal, you can enjoy a speech. Just serve up the appetizer, entrée and dessert with a new attitude!