Some Comforting Facts About Public Speaking
Do you want learn how to overcome public speaking anxiety? Do you feel like your body is fighting against you every time you get behind the podium? Does it seem like the audience can see how nervous you are?
Well you aren’t alone! Three out of four people suffer from speech anxiety. It is the most prevalent and commonly shared phobia.
In fact, Jerry Seinfeld once joked that most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. He said, “This means if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”
There’s even a term for fear of public speaking; it’s glossophobia. Literally translated from Greek, it means fear of the tongue. Clearly, stage fright has been around forever. I get asked about nervousness all the time. It’s real, most people experience it, and I take it seriously.
But I’m also a pragmatist about it. I feel like I’ve heard it all—nerves that cause shaking, forgetfulness, dry mouth, speed-talking, sweating, you name it. But I’ve never seen anyone die like they think they’re going to. And I’ve rarely, if ever, seen an audience that noticed the speaker was nervous. You, as the speaker, are obviously fully in tune with your anxiety, but the audience isn’t looking for it.
In fact, I’ve held mock presentation sessions for groups and had people sit down after it was their turn speaking and say, “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t breathe up there” … yet no one else in the group noticed. This is what you need to know: Audiences expect you to be just fine, and so that’s what they see—a speaker or presenter who is just fine.
They actually expect you to succeed! They’re unlikely to notice the shaking or other physical manifestations of nerves, and they have no way of knowing that you accidentally skipped a whole section of your talk. Remember, you’ve got a home-court advantage, so to speak. The audience assumes you’re going to be great!