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How Can I Have the Confidence to Speak in Public?

heart to heart
Please advise and heal me. I am afraid of speaking in front of groups of people. I feel my body will sink when I stand to up speak. Please tell me why this happens and what I have to do to overcome such feelings?
Wallace's reply
Wallace I can advise you but I cannot heal you - that is something you need to do for yourself. Fear of speaking in public affects many people and a surprising number of people are absolutely terrified at the prospect of standing up in front of a group of people and giving a speech.

Fear of speaking in public can have a number of reasons that often work together to create extreme levels of fear and anxiety. Does any of this sound familiar? When you imagine yourself standing up in public do you feel that:

  1. Everyone will be judging my performance?
  2. What I have to say will be of no value to my audience?
  3. I will lack confidence in my appearance?
  4. I will lose my train of thought and become incoherent?
  5. If I make a mess of my speech I will feel humiliated because I will be seen to have failed in front of so many people?
I wish to take each of these in turn and show you how to go beyond such limiting feelings...

Everyone will be judging my performance.
This fear is caused by your tendency to judge others - consequently you project this tendency onto your audience who you then feel will be judging you. If you wish to go beyond this fear, practice refraining from judging others and instead learn to appreciate other people and their ideas, thoughts, feelings and actions. By learning to appreciate others you will attract appreciation from your audience.

What I have to say will be of no importance to my audience.
Your views deserve and need to be voiced. Realize that your perspective and opinion is valuable. You will grow in confidence if your material has been properly prepared. Condense your speech into a series of notes, Power Point slides or a Mind Map to aid memory and help keep you focused. Practice delivering your speech from your notes to a few supportive friends who will give you valuable feedback. Proper preparation greatly assists confidence. (I do not do this myself, since I prefer to speak spontaneously as guided from within, but when you are learning to speak in public, or for complicated subjects with fine detail to get across, having notes is very helpful).

I will lack confidence in my appearance.
Dress as befits the occasion, then as you stand up to make your delivery believe in, and focus on, the message you are conveying to your audience. By focusing on conveying the message of the speech you will feel less self-conscious and give a more convincing delivery.

I will lose my train of thought and become incoherent.
The best speeches have a degree of spontaneity - it is tedious to listen to a speech which is simply read out verbatim word for word. The audience wants to sense conviction from your body language and be entertained by off the cuff remarks. Giving a good speech is really an exercise in being yourself through the spontaneous presentation of your material. Learning to give speeches is an excellent method to discover your latent creative power. To do this successfully you need to learn to tap into your inner voice, or inner guidance, and project it out into the audience. This can be achieved by learning to focus on the Heart center by listening carefully to inner guidance as it flows - then picking up this inner stream of consciousness and running with it without analyzing or judging this inner wisdom in any way. Being self-conscious or anxious cuts you off from your inner wisdom. Then the speech appears wooden and lifeless because the speaker resorts to simply reading out his notes.

If I make a mess of my speech I will feel humiliated because I will be seen to have failed in front of a large group of people.
It is the ego that feels humiliation. So what if you fail? It may be a paradox but the less you are concerned with failure the more likely you are to succeed. Do not worry about failing or underperforming. Refrain from judging yourself in these terms. When you stand up in front of your audience hand over the success or failure of the speech to God and address your audience confidently.

I can give you a few pointers to guide you along the right path. You can receive personal training in public speaking from Toastmasters, a non-profit organization that develops public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback. There may be a local club in your area. If you want help in tuning in to inner guidance so that you can draw on it to help you in every area of your life, including public speaking, I recommend my book Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off.

By learning to speak confidently in public you will feel much more assured and your life will be transformed.

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