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Public speaking is an absolute nightmare for a lot of people; your palms are sweaty, your mind wanders, you lose your focus. But in this article, I’ll share my secrets, so that
you too can nail your next presentation in front of an audience.
Public speaking is not a skill you are born with
I read a survey the other day that the number one fear of most Americans is speaking on stage. That to me is insane. I must have spoken on stage in one year alone probably
about 65 times or so—and the crowd size keeps increasing. Now I don’t say this to brag or be egotistical; I say this because for a very long time, I was also scared of speaking
on stage, until I basically began to realize the one thing. And the one thing is this: all your beliefs about certain things are predicated on a set of memories that you’ve had of
doing that or not doing that thing.
There is power in numbers
So what I mean by that is, for you to be able to speak in front of crowd like a hundred people, you must have been able to speak in front of a crowd of 50 people. And to be
able to speak in front of a crowd of 50 people, you must have been able to speak in front of a crowd of at least 10 people. Those little legs on the ladder, let’s say, are what I
call reference points. That’s basically it because they are points you can reference to say that you’ve been able to do that one thing.
My public speaking story
In my case, with public speaking, before I spoke to crowds of thousands, my actual first public speaking was when I was 15, and I spoke at an event called the Jack Petchey
Foundation. I spoke about the power of a smile; there’s actually a YouTube video about it. It was in my younger days; it was so cringey. I can’t believe I’m really telling you this. I
think in there, there were probably like a hundred people or so. However, by doing that, when I then went for my next speaking gig which was in front of more or less 250
people, I was crazy nervous. But then, I just said to myself, “I spoke in front of a hundred people before. If I can do that, then I can therefore speak in front of 250
people.” And then I did that, and then the next 500 people, etc. In June, I’m going to be speaking at an event which has about 6000 people there. I’m going to be nervous, but
then, as I step on the stage, and as I think about it, I’m going to say to myself, “I’ve spoken in front of 3000 people before. I’ve spoken in front of a thousand people before.”
And by doing that, I’m basically telling my brain that this is the norm. That is what you’re after.
What makes public speaking scary?
The reason why you’re scared of public speaking is because it doesn’t feel natural to you. It doesn’t feel like the actual norm. And so, as a consequence of that, if you just tell
your brain that it’s the norm, your brain is like, “Well, it is the norm.” And then you basically start to act as if this is something that you’ve been doing the whole time.
That’s my tip for how to conquer your fear of public speaking. Rather than thinking about the huge stage, just think about speaking in front of 10 people. Do something
which can easily get you to speak in front of 10 people. Then the next thing, try to speak to 30 people. And then 50 people. Just take this step by step because your brain will
start treating it like this is the norm, and you’ll eventually start to become a really good public speaker.