Without a doubt, most people experience some type of nervousness in delivering a speech or presentation. It is normal; it is natural; and, in truth, it is beneficial. There are others, however, who are filled with such fear and dread at just the thought of public speaking, that panic ensues. When you absolutely, positively cannot stand and face an audience, you need more than a few tips to enable you to accomplish your goal.
When I work with clients who have difficulty addressing a group of people, I take them through an exercise that is most successful. And it is simple, to boot.
Yes, they must first know their material, inside and out. Nothing can be accomplished unless they are ready with their script or their notes. What this means is if they have not created and practiced their material out loud, I send them home or back to work! If they are not prepared, they are wasting their time and mine.
Once that prerequisite is accomplished, however, they are then video-recorded while sitting in a chair as they deliver their speech or presentation from that position. In doing so, they are able to look at me as well as at the others in the group and speak with emotion. They do not experience the same fear because they treat their material or script just as if they were having a conversation.
I then play back their presentation and have them listen to it. They are always surprised at how good it sounds. Probably the most common response from my clients is that they didn’t think they would sound so natural. That is the reaction I am looking for. If you look at those who are truly dynamic at public speaking, you will notice that they sound natural. They speak to the audience just as if they were having a conversation. They don’t read to you; and, they don’t quote a memorized script.
The next step is to have them stand at their chair and deliver the same material again, just as if in conversation. If that doesn’t work, they sit back down and continue working from the sitting position until they are able to successfully stand and deliver. Once they have accomplished these 2 steps, they move to the lectern. As simple as it sounds, this exercise really does work.
If you are being held back because of your inability to stand and address an audience, try this exercise. (Just make sure to record yourself while practicing.) You will be surprised at how much easier it will be to face a real one.