You can know all the rules to the game, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get out there and hit a home run. Giving a speech, much like playing a sport, involves preparation, a sound body, a strong mind, limber muscles, and a full playbook.
You have to exercise, train, and practice.
But as with any athlete or speaking pro out there, nerves can really trip us up and affect our performance. In Fearless Speaking: Beat Your Anxiety. Build Your Confidence. Change Your Life., Gary Genard plays Coach Joe Girardi to our Derek Jeter. This get-up-out-of-your-seat book is all about going on the offensive and getting to the bottom of your speaking fears. Genard certainly knows how to approach speaking with an athlete’s mindset.
The Athlete’s Mindset
- Audience members are your fans, not your competitors.
“Most nervousness isn’t visible to others because it’s internal. And if people do see you’re nervous, they’ll most likely have the normal reaction, which is to sympathize with you. Since audience members feel good when you’re succeeding and embarrassed when you’re failing, they’re actually on your side and want you to do well.”
- There is no “I” in “team.” Don’t hog the ball.
Genard delivers some tough love when he calls out speech anxiety and self-consciousness for what they truly are—narcissism.
“Hey, what makes you think this audience is here because of you? They’re contributing their valuable time attending this event because they hope to get something out of it. Instead of being concerned about your own feelings, ask yourself if you’re meeting your audience’s needs.”
- Hold the dumbbells, focus on your voice.
“Keep in mind that the voice is inherently physical. That fact may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you’re preoccupied with the content of a presentation or consumed by performance anxiety.
Because your voice is physical, it is intimately connected to energy and relaxation, as well as tension and stress. That means that the pressures of a too-hectic lifestyle or work schedule will emerge in one form or another in your vocal expression. Anything you can do to relieve those pressures—yoga, sports, and relaxation exercises—will pay off in a more fluid and powerful vocal instrument.”
- Keep your eye on the prize.
“Your fear of public speaking and the measure of your success as a speaker are entirely separate matters. It’s easy to confuse these two issues: thinking that just because you were nervous, your presentation had to have been a failure.
Because speaking anxiety makes you so uncomfortable, it sometimes becomes an all-consuming state of mind. That makes it easy for you to lose sight of a critically important fact: Your goal is not to speak without anxiety it is to positively influence your audience.”
Become an MVP and Train With the Pros
How to Speak Like A Pro: Practical Tips for Your Confidence, Deliver and Impact: On October 27, Jenny will be leading a live workshop at Holstee’s new Learning Lab in Brooklyn, NY. Come connect with creatives, entrepreneurs, and others who want to master the skills of public speaking.
Heroic Public Speaking: Michael Port, One of my biggest influences in business and public speaking, will be leading a four-month interactive virtual program starting October 27. The class will culminate in a live workshop for all participants in February. Click here for details and to get Michael's free Heroic Public Speaking Guide To World Saving Speeches.
Can’t make it? You can still learn how to Speak Like A Pro from home.
We’re excited to give away a copy of Fearless Speaking by Gary Genard to one lucky Life After College reader. To enter, answer the following question in the comments by Monday, October 13:
Comment to Be Entered to Win: What do you do to beat public speaking anxiety?
About Marisol Dahl
Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.