If you’ve ever had to give a speech, you know how terrifying it can be. Giving a speech has long been known to be a bigger fear among North Americans than dying. People would rather face death than a polite audience. I could understand if it was like in the old days, where people would throw tomatoes and rotten eggs if they didn’t like what you were talking about, but people really don’t do that kind of stuff anymore.
So why are people so afraid of public speaking?
Child development experts tell us we spend the first two years of our lives learning how to walk and talk, with fantastic encouragement from all the adults around us. Then the rest of our lives, society as a whole (our parents, teachers, religious leaders) tells us to sit down and be quiet. Is it any wonder we sometimes feel an incredible rush of anxiety when we stand to talk in front of many people?
One idea that can give you enough motivation to move past this irrational fear is that people that can regularly and comfortably speak in front of others generally make a lot more money. The best speakers can command six figures for one speech. If you’ve ever seen somebody give a speech, and then sell a bunch of products in the back of the room (e.g. backroom sales) you’ve probably already figured out that just in selling those products alone they can easily make another six figures. That’s just for one afternoons work.
Of course, not everybody wants to become the next Tony Robbins, but wouldn’t it feel good to feel as confident making a speech in public as it would to ask a stranger for the time on the street?
Luckily, there are many ways around this. One way is creative visualization. The reason many people get scared when giving a speech is that they imagine the worse possible thing coming true. (Those tomatoes and stuff.) So naturally, when you think about giving a speech, and all you can imagine is getting booed and laughed at, and maybe getting hit in the face with a couple rotten eggs, getting nervous is a natural response.
But when you practice imagining a different outcome, things slowly change. When you consciously practice imagining giving a speech with a great ending, you will slowly become less and less nervous over time. This does take effort, because your brain naturally gravitates to worse case scenarios, it’s just a leftover aspect from evolution. Running from tigers and stuff like that.
But just like eating the right foods, and exercise overtime can shape your body into a much more attractive, right thought and practiced visualization will just as readily change your automatic feelings when it comes to making a speech.
While there is no magic bullet, consistent practice will yield inevitable results. And pretty soon you’ll not only be looking forward to giving speeches, but also people will be looking forward to hearing you.