Public Speaking for Scaredy Cats

They say you can counteract public speaking jitters by imagining the audience in their underwear.  This tip really works but not for the reason you might think.  

Focusing on the audience helps the speaker de-center; that is, they stop obsessing about themselves by placing their focus elsewhere.  If you doubt this concept, consider the type of thoughts that might race through the mind of a terrified speaker.

“What if I forget my words?”

“What if I stutter?”

“My knees are knocking – can anyone else hear it?”

“I hope I don’t trip on my way to the microphone.”

All of this internal fear-based chatter is focused on the self.  Try turning it around. Thinking about others makes you less important in the moment and allows your brain to process messages in a more organized manner.

Remember: It’s Not All About You

The underwear trick doesn’t work for me — instead I ask myself helpful questions.

“What do I know about the audience that will help me deliver something of use?”

“Which of their challenges does my material address?”

“What learnings are they looking for today?”

“How will I know I’m delivering value to this group?”

Put It Into Practice

Ready to get started? Pick a topic that ignites your passion.  Find a group that shares this interest.  Volunteer to speak.


Photo credit: Microsoft graphics gallery


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