Anecdotal evidence suggests people’s fear of public speaking is so high they would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy when attending a funeral. People would rather die than speak in public!
Consulting and public speaking is one of the top businesses for seniorpreneurs, however. Having seen my peers get rid of this fear, there is still hope for everybody, and you can earn from it! Your age gives you an air of wisdom and reliability.
Like many other ‘fears’, you can tame public speaking and simply turn it less terrifying.
1. Normalize your fear.
Understand that this fear is normal in our society. You can be bigger than that fear. Your audience may also have the same fear as yours. When you realize that, you can better connect with your audience because they know how difficult it is to speak in front of them.
2. Constantly practice.
Even the greatest of speakers need practice. The art of speaking can be mastered through practicing. Don’t feel ashamed if you use notes whenever you practice, or when you’re finally on stage.
3. But don’t try to be perfect.
If you expect to deliver the perfect speech, then you’re just going to be an accident waiting to happen on stage. Instead of going for perfect, be natural. You are still human when you start speaking.
The audience won’t expect you to be some kind of superhuman. Don’t force perfectionism on yourself. Try to find one person in the audience you can focus on. Deliver your message as if you’re speaking directly to this one person. If said person understands your message, the rest will.
4. Be prepared.
A prepared speaker is a great speaker. Being prepared can boost your confidence. Know who your audience is going to be, and dress appropriately. You will do well by writing your material, reading your notes and practicing it all.
5. Take a breather.
Before you engage in public speaking, free yourself of anxiety. Once you have understood your fear, you also have the power to throw it away for the moment. You can watch a movie, go out with friends, or listen to your get psyched mix before you get on stage.
6. Speak from the heart.
Concentrate on what your audience needs and how you can meet those with your speech. You are in control of the situation. Don’t be afraid of your audience, but be there to inspire them. Share with them the knowledge you know so well. Your audience will see your energy and passion – something they will be able to connect to.
7. Keep your audience relaxed.
Even when you’ve captured your audience’s attention, you still have to let the audience feel that you are interested in them. It is a fact that people have low attention span. They will look elsewhere if they aren’t intrigued with what you are sharing. Tell a joke or a short story – get them continually engaged with your speech.
Once you get people laughing, they’re listening, and you can tell them almost anything. – Herbert Gardner, Playwright
It doesn’t mean that you have to be an instant comedian; but a simple quote can add brevity to a fearful situation for you and your audience.
There is much more to delivering a public speech that simply talking about a subject, but it doesn’t have to be an awful experience. These steps will help you overcome public speaking fears, become more relaxed and poised to deliver your informative message. Most importantly, have fun!
Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.
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