Don't let nerves get the better of you
I remember when and where I was when I conquered my fear of speaking. I was in my hometown of Adelaide, Australia, presenting at a public speaking competition. I almost dropped out I was so nervous, and I told the organiser that I had forgotten my palm cards (which I had conveniently hidden in my back pocket). Needless to say he made me deliver my 6-minute prepared speech, then came the 4-minute impromptu topic.
For this talk, the speaker would be given an envelope with a random topic and then would have to speak for 4 minutes then and there.
I ripped open the envelope and read the words “Your heroes have let you down”. GO! screamed the organiser.
For the next 4 minutes, the audience heard how I was devastated as a child when I found out the Muppets weren’t real. In the first 30 seconds, when my brain kicked into gear, and the adrenaline started flowing, I realised at that point that I actually really enjoyed speaking in public.
Fast forward 25 years, and more than literally hundreds and hundreds of presentations to a range of internal and external audiences and I realise the value of that competition because it made me a better speaker, and one more valuable to my organisation, and my own brand.
I am sure many people reading this post will identify with the fear of public speaking, and may wonder why they put themselves through the ordeal of this each time they are asked to speak.
Public speaking is an incredible transferable skill and you don’t need to be on a well-lit stage in front of hundreds of people to practice and perfect this skill, it can be in front of your team at the next staff meeting, a customer at a product pitch, or your board of directors.