In this blog post: How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever, I bring you, Part 2 of a 2 Part Blog Post on overcoming your fear of public speaking and understanding why the fear of public speaking is so common. To do this, I give you the key extracts from a podcast interview I did with Radio 2 and Hay House Radio presenter, Janey Lee Grace on how to deal with your presentation fears and become the best public speaker.
Because, did you know that public speaking or the fear of public speaking, is probably one of the top fears in the world?
Yes, it’s one of the top fears in the world!!
If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend you read Part 1 of this blog post series on public speaking: Why The Fear of Public Speaking is so Common, so you can gain an understanding as to why you feel like you do.
Trust me, it’s going to make you feel a lot better about life!
But in this blog post, I outline the key extracts from the interview with Janey where she goes into the detail of how you How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever.
It’s a corker!
No time to read all the blog post? Then skip to the summary section at the bottom.
Are you ready?
Here are the key extracts from the conversation to help you:
Prosperity K: The good news is, as you said all the way through, presentation fear, public speaking fear is something that you’re convinced most people can overcome. So I’m going to invite you, Janey, would you mind giving us your top tips for How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 1: The first thing I would love everyone too recognise is that this sense of being nervous and imperfect is very, very common. But also, this nervousness around what might go wrong, the dropping the papers, the spilling the water, actually, those things make you more human and make you more relatable and they actually, believe it or not, those kinds of things put the audience at ease. Now, I’m not suggesting that you purposely choose to get on stage and knock your water over, but the more relatable, the more human you appear, the more the audience tend to like you. I really think it’s about just recognising that you are human and nerves are okay. In fact, I sometimes I say to the people I work with, “Don’t aim to not have any nerves because nerves can be a good thing.” I always say, “Expect to have butterflies in your tummy, but have the butterflies flying in perfect formation.”
Expect to feel nervous, but that’s a good kind of adrenaline, which is going to make you feel nicely awake before you go on stage.
Prosperity K: Yeah. Okay. Nicely said.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 2: That leads into number two which, is probably two and three to be honest and that’s preparation. Preparation is the key. I really believe that you’ll be less nervous the more preparation you’ve done. Now, we already spoke a little bit about content, about people being nervous that somebody might pick them up on something that they’ve said. When I work with clients, I’ll sometimes say to them, “Okay. Let’s imagine just before you go out on stage, maybe, or just before the audience come in the room, just tell me about the last amazing holiday that you had. We’re not recording anything. I’m not filming you. I’d just be really interested to know about your holiday.” And then they get this kind of smile on their face and with a whole load of passion they tell me, “Oh, wow, I went skiing and it was just incredible. The sun was out and it was crisp snow and I managed to do a manoeuvre that I never thought I’d get to do.”
And they share this passionate kind of little tale with me and then to play devil’s advocate I’ll say, “Well, actually, I just want to come back at you and say I think you’re totally wrong, really quite irresponsible, actually, because I think skiing’s a terrible sport. I think it’s expensive. I think it’s really dangerous.”
Their response is not to be horrified that someone in the audience has challenged them and they might be wrong. Their response is simply, “Well, that’s up to you. That’s your view.” Why? Because when they were talking about their holiday, it was their own experience they were sharing. It was a message that came from their own authenticity and it wouldn’t matter what anyone in the audience said. It’s not going to make a blind bit of difference because they know that to be true.
Now, if you use that analogy and you slip the same principle, if you like, into the preparation of your content, I would urge anybody not to give a talk on anything that they are not enthusiastic about. I’m a professional speaker, but if you wanted to pay me to talk about rocket science or nuclear science, I’m sorry but there isn’t any amount of money that could enable me to do that. I’ll read an auto cue for you, but I couldn’t actually give a talk. Why? A, because I don’t know anything about it. I have absolutely no follow through ability, so if there was a question, no, I definitely wouldn’t be able to answer it. But mostly because I’m not enthusiastic. It doesn’t make my heart sing, so no, I can’t give a talk about it, actually.
I really think that preparing your content carefully is really important because nobody wants to watch a boring speaker. And a speaker will be boring if they’re bored themselves with the topic. So if somebody’s asking you to give a presentation and you don’t care about that thing, I suggest you tell them to find somebody else. You’ve got to care about it. It’s the caring about it, it’s the enthusiasm that is going to give you the confidence because you are sharing an authentic message. And depending on what it is you talk about, maybe there’s an element of something in the message you’re sharing might help somebody else or it might inspire somebody else or it might encourage somebody else, so what’s not to like about that? So that’s the preparation of the content, and I think that’s a big one.
Prosperity K: Great so preparation is the key, knowing your topic and being enthusiastic. I 100% agree. I always impress all three onto my Client’s. Tip number 3?
Janey Lee Grace: Number 3: Number three, is rehearsing your set. So once you’ve established the content, rehearse it Now, that means actually rehearse, actually practice speaking out loud. Again, people say to me, “Well, what do you mean practice? You want me to actually read my script in front of a mirror?” Well, yeah, actually. Or record yourself on your phone, or both.
Prosperity K: Yeah. Exactly. This to me is one of the key ways to prepare for a public speaking gig, if not the main one and that’s to rehearse until you can rehearse no more.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 4: Before the talk warm up, if you’re feeling very nervous, literally speak out loud. If you were to go to a theatre where there’s a whole bunch of actors about to audition for a role, you would not see them all in the green room, in the waiting room, staring at their script and reading silently in their head. They would be pacing up and down corridors or outside the building reading out loud, albeit quietly. The reason for that is that you need to get the muscle memory going. So literally getting your mouth around the words you’re going to say is really important. Actually saying the words out loud, and not necessarily the whole script before you go on, of course, but actually using some of the words that you are going to be saying helps remind your mouth to say them correctly.
Prosperity K: There is a reason why actors have been doing this for hundreds of years. It absolutely helps their performance.,
Janey Lee Grace: Number 5: Make sure that your body language is okay. Work out for yourself how you’re standing and which way feels most comfortable.
Prosperity K: Practising how you’re going to stand and your posture is absolutely vital before any public speaking gig. Look in the mirror, get someone to film you etc etc. It can be hard to watch yourself at first, but push through it.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 6: Try on your outfit in advance of the public speaking gig. Don’t just shove something on the morning of your presentation, because you need to make sure that you’re going to be comfortable and you’re going to look how you want to look. You absolutely don’t want to be on stage finding that you’re kind of pulling your dress down because it’s catching on something.
Prosperity K: Catch on your knickers or your fly is undone. I so agree with that. I so agree with it. Carry on.
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Janey Lee Grace: Number 7: Is The Pause. While you’re on stage, well, it’s partly preparation and partly while you’re actually speaking, remember the power of the pause. Because the pause, in terms of speech, that’s our punctuation, if you like. If you’re reading a newspaper and you see a punchy headline or you see a piece of text, if it’s really trying to make a point, there will be some capital letters and then there will be a full stop. That full stop is really important before it delivers the next line, or a semicolon.
When we’re speaking, of course, we don’t have that, but we do because that’s the pause. Also, the pause can help deliver what we’re trying to say with power, she says, leaving a pause after that word, but it can also help you out of a tricky moment. If you’re on stage, if you’re speaking and you’re, I don’t know, you’ve got to the end of a sentence and suddenly you realise you’ve completely lost your thread and you really can’t remember where you’re going next, then just pause. That’s just the power of the pause. Just leave it. Just leave that hanging and it will come back to you. If it doesn’t, then you walk back to the lectern or wherever your notes are and hopefully you will have a bullet point there that will remind you where to go next. I would never advise anyone, by the way, to take a full script onto a stage. Never use a full script. Only ever have bullet points.
So the power of the pause can be really, really important. You know you’ve got the pause to fall back on, as it were. It can be really, really useful for you. And it can feel like it goes on forever but actually, of course, it’s usually nanoseconds really.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 8: The next point, the next tip would be to engage the audience. Again, that can really show up a good speaker from a bad speaker because if you’re feeling very fearful, it’s quite common to stumble out onto the stage and ignore the audience, pretend they’re not there completely and then just do everything facing a Powerpoint. Seriously, what is the point?
Prosperity K: Makes the audience want to go to sleep.
Janey Lee Grace: Make eye contact at various point around the room and, importantly, believe that these people want to hear your talk and they’re very open to what you have to say. Just visualiee the room being there for you, so make eye contact, smile. Chances are they’ll smile back and if they don’t, hey ho. Doesn’t matter. They’re concentrating.
Janey Lee Grace:
The other tip that I would say about how you engage with an audience is when you first go on stage, if there is something that’s bothering you, if there’s something going on, I don’t know, sometimes we call it the elephant in the room, then I think it’s a really good idea just to get that out of the way straight away. So what I mean by that is, for example, if you, I wear contact lenses and there have been times when it’s just sod’s law the way it works, but my contact lens will decide to play up just before I’m about to go out on stage. Consequently, I’m weeping and having to sort of dab my eyes with tissues. Now, of course I can get through it, obviously, and I would go on stage and I would deliver the whole talk and I know for a fact that two-thirds of the audience will spend the first 10 minutes of my talk thinking, “Oh, poor love. I wonder what just happened?”
Prosperity K: She’s crying.
Janey Lee Grace: Yeah, she’s delivering this talk but clearly something terrible … So they won’t be concentrating. They’ll just be feeling sorry for me. So how much better if I just go out on stage and immediately bring out the elephant in the room and say, “Look, here’s my tissue. I do apologise. My contact lenses are playing up. You’re going to see me dabbing my eyes but, really, I’m fine.” That’s it. It’s out of the way. It’s gone. Over, done with, now I can crack on.
Prosperity K: It breaks the ice as well, actually.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 9: These are messing about a bit in terms of order because I’m kind of going back to preparation now, which is before you go on stage, make sure you do some breathing. I should probably have said that when we were doing the vocal warmup, but we do forget that when we’re on stage we often, because we feel nervous, we start to breathe really, really, really shallow, really fast which, of course, is going to get us into more trouble. Do some breathing exercises first and then when you are on stage, just remember to breathe slowly. You don’t have to do anything bizarre and unusual. Just remember, just have that thought, “Okay, I’m actually going to consciously breathe slowly.” Sometimes that really is all you need to kind of tell yourself okay, I’m going to do that.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 10: And then, the next one is slightly more complicated, so it won’t be for everybody, but for people who know that they get nervous, it’s really worth investing in a little bit of teaching yourself or having a session with someone to learn a simple tapping routine. Now, EFT is called emotional freedom technique and it can be very complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a fantastic way of just tapping very lightly on certain pressure points which enables you to just kind of get rid of the emotional charge. It’s really clever how it works.
When I first trained to do EFT, I didn’t really believe it because it seemed a little bit odd because when you do EFT you tap on certain pressure points at the side of your hand, for example, or just above your eyebrow, just to give you two examples. You usually say out loud the thing that’s worrying you, so what it is that’s worrying you. So you might tap on the side of your hand and say, “I’m terrified I’m going to forget my script. I’m really worried the audience are going to think I’m awful. I’m scared I might trip up. I might now know …” So you literally say these things out loud. And part of me was thinking, “Well, that can’t be right, then, because I’m reinforcing the negative. Surely I shouldn’t be doing that.” But actually, it works the opposite way. By actually speaking out the fears and tapping at the same time, and that’s the important thing, you’re able to release those fears. It’s really quite magical how it works.
It’s probably, as I say, a little too complex to go through it all now, but there are very simple tapping sequences that you can do very simply, to yourself, just before you go on stage that make a really, really big difference and just take out that sort of emotional charge, if you like, of the fear.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 11: And then another really simple tip that absolutely everyone can do is, before going on stage or before you go into the interview, stand in the power pose.
Prosperity K: Amy Cuddy, isn’t it?
Janey Lee Grace: Yeah, Amy Cuddy talked about this on a TED talk, but people have known about this for years. Psychologists call it the cybernetic loop, the link between the body and the brain. They reckon it’s impossible to cry if you’re standing up straight. You can’t do it because the connection between the brain and the body says, “No, I’m really, really upset. Everything needs to hang down.” So it can work the other way round. You can trick your brain into feeling strong and confident by standing up tall to give you confidence and strength. Feet apart, chest back, head held high, arms by your side. That literally gives you a feeling of confidence.
Prosperity K: It really does, actually.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 12: Visualise yourself absolutely rocking it. We know the power of visualisation. Athletes do it. Athletes will visualise themselves either winning a race or beating their own best time. Don’t just send out a little hopeful message, “Oh, I really hope I’ll be okay on this talk.” No. Actually visualise yourself, see yourself, look at the clothes you’re wearing in your mind’s eye. How is you hair done, and then see yourself coming back off the stage punching the air and saying, “Yeah, I rocked it.” Yeah. And actually get a grip on that image and hold onto it because that’s incredibly powerful. That really does tell your subconscious mind, “Yep. I’m good. I’m good. I’m going to do this and I’m going to love it.”
Janey Lee Grace: Number 13: The other thing. I don’t know whether it’s an actual tip, but the other thing to say is why not enjoy it as well?
Prosperity K: Adjust your mindset and say I’m going to enjoy what I’m dreading. I often find that works, flip your mindset and tell yourself: “Actually, I’m going to enjoy it.”. So in summary you’ve said to accept, you basically said nerves are okay, ignore them? Nerves are okay.
Janey Lee Grace: Well, yeah. Embrace them. Accept that if you’re feeling nervous, that’s a good thing. It’s a nice anticipation. It’s butterflies in perfect formation.
Prosperity K: Yes. And you said if something does go wrong, you know what? It makes you more human. I love that. That was tip number one. Tip number two was presentation and … Not presentation, it’s preparation is the key, which is what I always to clients is preparation, preparation, preparation.
Prosperity K: Number three is you said, which I thought was brilliant and so true, is if you’re going to go and do a talk or talk about public speaking or presentation or whatever, is be enthusiastic about what you’re talking about, and I’m going to add to that, be knowledgeable.
Don’t go and talk about something you’re not really knowledgeable about because it does have a habit of slipping people up. So definitely, the enthusiasm. I completely agree with what you’re saying and I think you linked that to the preparation tip.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 14: Yes, definitely. Yeah, because you’re preparing your content. You’re preparing your script. And it goes without saying, don’t give too much. If you’ve been asked to speak for, I don’t know, 20 minutes or half an hour, try not to pack in everything but the kitchen sink, because you’re just going to leave people overwhelmed, really.I used to do this years ago when I first gave talks, when I’d written my first book, Imperfectly Natural Woman. I was just so keen to just share everything, everything. So I spoke really fast and completely overwhelmed the whole audience. They came out exhausted. But I quickly learned actually you need to make it manageable so that people .
Prosperity K: Oooooooooooooooh, that’s another really good point.
Janey Lee Grace: Number 15: There’s also a skill in there in making sure that you’ve decided what’s the takeaway, as it were. What is it that you want people to remember? Because they’ll probably only take away one idea, two max.
Prosperity K: Keep it simple. Make sure your overall message is clear and concise.
Prosperity K: Okay. You said prepare for the performance. Again, I 100% agree with what you said. Actually work out what you’re going to wear. Don’t just throw something on at the last minute. Think about your body language and you said about the voice practicing before you go onto stage to stimulate your muscle memory.
Janey Lee Grace: Yeah. Do some vocal warmups, yeah.
Prosperity K: Do some warmups. You said about the power of the pause, which is so powerful. You used the analogy of when you read a newspaper, there’s punctuation in there. Use your pause as your punctuation. You gave a little side tip which is about making sure you have a bullet points list of what your presentation is rather than taking a full script. Brilliant.
Prosperity K: Be ready to engage your audience, eye contact, humour. Some people just get up on stage and totally ignore their audience. It’s hilarious.
Janey Lee Grace: Totally. Yeah. Yeah. It makes the audience feel very uncomfortable, actually. What I really hate is being in an audience when it’s very obvious that the speaker is nervous and kind of doesn’t even want to be there and it’s excruciating to be in the audience. It really, really is. And then if they then proceed to do the whole preparation with their head down and every single word they utter is written on the Powerpoint, then what was the point of doing it at all? They may as well just have given me a memory stick and I could have flicked through it in my own time.
Prosperity K: Yeah, I know. I 100% agree. You’ve got to inject personality into a presentation. I think if the listener’s going to do one thing it’s make sure you’ve got that eye contact. It’s really powerful.
Prosperity K: You said about addressing the elephant in the room. You gave your contact lens example. You then went on to mention tapping, EFT, and how powerful that can be. You then said about the power pose. t.
Prosperity K:And then you said, finally, about the visualisation. Visualise yourself rocking that presentation if you do anything. And then you went on to say enjoy it.
Janey Lee Grace: Yeah, absolutely. Have fun. Yeah. Why not? I mean, it’s a real privilege, isn’t it, to be able to pop up and speak to people. It’s great.
Prosperity K: It is, and I think once you’ve pushed through that barrier of having that fear and, like you said earlier, you know that you want to do it, you know that you’d like to do it and you know it’s good for you, once you do actually push through and you persevere and you practice public speaking, it gives you the biggest thrill in the world. It’s really an adrenaline rush, really, and if you do it well you just feel on top of the world.
And that’s the crux of this blog post really – How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever – if you can get to a stage where you enjoy public speaking- then it will give you the biggest thrill and satisfaction in the world. I don’t expect you to read this blog post and become and expert over night – NO – but what I can promise you . is this, the more public speaking you do, the better at it you will become. FACT. So get yourself out there. Start small and work your way up.
You can do it!
I hope this helped you I really do.
For the full podcast interview with Janey: How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever click here.
Summary – How To Quash Fear of Public Speaking Forever.
So in summary:
- Being nervous and imperfect is very, very common. The more relatable you are (doing something silly or being nervous, the more human you appear.
- Preparation is the key. Plus being enthusiastic and an expert in the topic you’re presenting.
- Rehearse your set. Again and again.
- Warm up your vocal cords before speaking. It really really helps.
- Get your body language and posture perfected.
- Try on your presentation outfit before the morning of the presentation. Ensure your comfortable.
- The power of the PAUSE!
- Engage the audience. Eye contact.
- Try EFT to help your performance.
- Adopt the power pose before going on stage.
- Visualise your success.
- Flip your thinking – tell yourself – I’m going to enjoy this.
- Don’t give too much.
- What do you want the takeaway to be?
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Gemma is a leading Life Coach & Business Coach, Award Winning Podcaster and the owner of Prosperity Kitchen. Regularly featured in the national press, Gemma is one of the “go to” people on Life Coaching & Business Coaching. Gemma counts VIPs, High Net Worth Individuals, Entrepreneurs, Career Professionals, Stay at Home Parents and all manner of other amazing people as her clients. She specialises in Personal Development, Career Coaching, Employee Coaching, Executive Coaching, Confidence, Motivation, Health and Small Business Coaching.
Janey Lee Grace is a presenter, singer and author. She is co-presenter on the UK’s biggest radio show, BBC Radio 2’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon. She began her career singing backing vocals for Kim Wilde, Boy George and toured the world as a backing singer with George Michael and Wham! She reached number 8 in the charts with the single 7 ways to love (Cola Boy) in the early 90’s. Janey is a major influencer in the world of natural health and well-being, she has written five books on Holistic living including the number One Amazon best seller Imperfectly Natural Woman and currently writes columns for many magazines. Janey has also written You are the Brand PR secrets yo fasttrack your visibility and runs training workshops and consultations on Media Breakthrough for holistic brands and experts.
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