So – people have been standing up in front of a room full of strangers for thousands of years. Well, it might not have started as a room, maybe an amphitheatre?
But there’s one truth about public speaking that no-one really talks about, and it’s a truth that forms the basis of many people’s anxieties when it comes to presenting or speaking in public.
The Truth is this – the audience is not your enemy.
I know that that sounds a little weird – but it’s true. Those people that you’re speaking to – whether it’s a conference, your sales team, potential clients – they’re on the same side as you.
As with everything, there are exceptions. If you’re the Chairman of a company and you’re about to announce the closure of a site and massive job losses – yep, that can be a real Us Against Them moment.
But for everyone else – the audience is with you.
Think about it – when you see someone giving a speech or a presentation, are you willing them to fail? Are you wishing that they forget their notes and bluster and bumble about? Do you want them to become a sweating, nervous mess on the stage? Of course not! You want them to deliver a great presentation. You want them to succeed!
So many of my clients start their session by saying that they’re nervous or anxious because they think that they are going to make a mistake and look foolish in front of the audience.
They’re thinking of their speech or presentation as adversarial or combative in some way. Like there a huge invisible wall up between you and the audience and the speech is like a battle that needs to be fought.
All of this is so so wrong.
You need to visualise the audience as people who are on your side. Not friends as such – but good acquaintances. People who are willing you on, supporting you as you deliver your presentation. Seeing that in your mind before you even say a word is going to go some way to help with those nerves.
Once you have that image firmly in your mind – you’ll be one step closer to delivering an outstanding speech.
And that’s the Truth.