Public Speaking: Beating Those Nervous Butterflies
In a great number of surveys, it has been determined that public speaking the second most feared activity in the universe, with the first place being held by death itself... oh yeah... and tied with an IRS audit.
It seems ironic to me that one of the things I love doing the most is, for many, as scary as plunging into the great unknown! If reading my Hubs has convinced you that I am a long winded bag of hot air, you should meet me! I'll talk your ear off with limitless data and anecdotes on almost any subject on Earth, with the exception of rap music, quilting and transvestites. Kids in elementary school called me "the walking encyclopaedia." These days most people call me "that pain in the butt Hal."
It never ceases to amaze me that the vast majority of people in this world simply are not interested in the disgorging of vast amounts of information by an individual at the drop of a hat. If they want to look something up, they'll fire up Google. However when almost any phrase they utter is rewarded with a 20 minute monologue about anything from the miscalculations of the perchloride levels in Martian soil; to the supralimbic structures in the cetacean cerebellum; to Iceland's fast track desires to join the Eurozone; to the journalistic origins of Benito Mussolini; their eyes usually glaze over and they try to find reasons to escape, including that they think they left the stove on at home, or they just realized that they're late for root canal surgery.
It's obvious that I most certainly don't have a problem addressing an audience, my problem is that I don't know when to shut up. However, the main problem for most individuals is quite different from mine: a lot of people are scared of the audience.
Addressing a sizeable crowd full of strangers can most certainly be intimidating. You start asking all sorts of huge self-doubt questions, such as: What if I end up making a total fool out of of myself? What if they laugh at the serious parts and are deathly quiet at the jokes? What if the podium falls over and I end up in the lap of that really fat sweaty guy in the front row?
These are just some of the more common questions (well, maybe the last one isn't so common...) racing through your fevered brain just prior to taking a deep breath and executing that very first step onto the stage or podium. But you need not torment yourself with self doubts. Just grasp the opportunity by the lapels and make the best of it. Keep saying to yourself that you'll be fine and you will be!
This is not the time to do an instant replay in your mind as to all the people who laughed at you, teased you, bullied you, or insulted you. This is not the time to think back to all the humiliations you experienced in high school. This is the time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, step out onto that brightly lit stage, and knock the audience out of its seats with your wit, brilliance, intelligence, insight, and impressive, inspiring, exhilarating, and thoroughly memorable performance!