How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
One of the best TED talks I’ve ever seen is by the magician and stuntman, David Blaine. In it Blaine talks about his quest to hold his breath for a record-breaking 17 minutes!
Technically, the talk isn’t great. Blaine breaks just about every public speaking rule there is: his voice is monotonous; he reads a large chuck of his speech; there are more than a few um’s and ah’s throughout the talk; and he even slurps water noisily (twice!) during the talk.
However, it’s impossible to watch the talk and not love it. It is riveting! And it is so because David Blaine clearly loves his work and he challenges himself to be the best at what he does.
I believe we are all put on this planet for a reason. Some people are here to speak publicly, and for them it is important that they hone their technique and master their craft.
For the rest of us who aren’t born to speak but for whom speaking is an important part of the work we do, it is far more important to connect deeply with our work so that we can share it powerfully with others.
Stop trying to get over your fear of public speaking. Rather focus on what you want to achieve through speaking. Devote your energy to mastering your message so that your words have a powerful impact on the lives of other people. Teach; motivate; inspire; inform.
Try not to get fixated on (and distracted by) technique. Unless you intend to become a professional speaker (i.e. where the bulk of your efforts and income are related to public speaking), don’t worry too much about um’s or ah’s, the duration of your pauses or the entertainment value of your talk.
Get help with your talk so that you aren’t making elementary mistakes. Do your research and rehearse well. But remember that what you say is far more important than how you say it.
Don’t let the fear of public speaking stop you from sharing your work and your message. Bring your passion and conviction to the stage, and the um’s and ah’s will be forgiven.
Now watch David Blaine’s talk and prepare to be blown away!
(Photo credit: Sims Phakisi, TEDx Johannesburg)