There is nothing more fulfilling than having the opportunity to inspire an audience, and I believe we all have something to share with the world. Sadly, fear holds us back from spreading our ideas. In fact, public speaking is the #1 fear of all times.
As aka “The Fear Girl”, I could not allow fear to hold me back. So I started implementing the valuable tips that Jason had given me in order to achieve my dream of inspiring audiences for a living.
I put together a demo-reel which I update after every talk I give
I designed a separate website for speaking engagements
I created a “Speaker Deck”, which includes a short bio and the description of my talk
I developed a 45 minute talk with beautiful slides and fun videos
I emailed absolutely everyone to let them know I'm available to speak
I became a member at Toastmaster's International to further develop my speaking skills
I watch daily TED Talks to learn from the best
I practice non-stop, test the audience and improve my speech after every talk I give
Doing all the right things is a good start, but that doesn't take the fear of speaking for 45 minutes in front of an audience away (and let's not even talk about the Q&A’s). What if I forget my next line? What if I forget how to speak in English? What if no one laughs at my jokes? What if my message is not relevant or relatable to the audience? What if I freeze? Fear lives in our heads and the only way to go against it is by proving to ourselves that we are stronger, better, and more capable than what we give ourselves credit for.
I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to talk to one of the most amazing TED Speakers, Simon Sinek. He actually called me to share his views on my project and helped me understand how to craft and deliver a message like a pro.
Here's some valuable advice I learned from famous TED Speaker Simon Sinek to deal with the fear of public speaking:
I learned to transform fear into excitement! Both emotions share similar symptoms and it is up to us to interpret those as either or. So whenever I start to feel nervous, anxious and a little bit sick to my stomach I make a huge effort to switch things around and try to imagine that instead of nervousness, I am 100% excited to speak. I think about the best case scenario and the message I will deliver. That helps me feel in peace and enjoy the anticipation.
I now understand that the audience wants the speaker to do well, they want to laugh, learn and feel inspired so they are rooting for you to succeed. What better support than that? This makes me worry less about missing or screwing up a line. It happens, we are all human, so we can either ignore the fact that we screwed up and keep going or acknowledge it and repeat the line. Seriously, what's the worst that could happen? The audience cares about the message, not about each individual line.
I learned the importance of always having the end in mind before starting to speak. Either if you are following a script or not, this will help you get to the message, the key takeaway, the point of our speech. If we deliver that message everything will be fine.
Then, I found out about Josh Shipp, founder of the Youth Speaker University and watched some of his helpful videos on public speaking. These are some of the valuable things I learned:
When you are standing in front of an audience, it is very easy to perceive this group of people as a crowd and get intimidated by them. If we speak to them as if they are just a bunch of people we will hardly connect with the individuals forming this crowd. We need to remember that each one of them has their own set of interests, beliefs and reasons to be there. We need to speak to each person and connect with them as if you are having a one on one conversation. For me, this is really hard to do but it's something I'm practicing and pushing myself to do better every time. I try to maintain eye contact and deliver full ideas from person to person as I go around the room. Also, Simon Sinek recommends to focus your attention only on those who are 100% interested and present. It will help you do better.
And my favorite advice, the one that helps me calm down and do my best: do NOT focus on yourself, focus on the audience. When we think too much about our delivery and our performance we stop thinking about the reason why we are there in the first place. We are there to inspire people with our message, that is it, focus on that, be excited by that. Let's try to put ourselves second and our audience first, this way you will have less pressure and a much better chance to succeed.
Being a motivational speaker is the best thing that has happened to me and I would encourage anyone with a powerful message to at least give it a shot. I get to connect with people from all kinds of backgrounds, listen to their fears and learn from their courage. I get to travel with purpose and immerse myself into other cultures. I get to be independant, work for myself doing what I love most, inspiring others. I simply cannot think of a better risk/reward in facing a fear for a living.