Recently I’ve had several conversations with women who feel as though they may be called to speak but are knee-knocking, tummy-turning, deathly afraid to speak in front of others.
Statistics tell us that public speaking ranks as the number two fear people face. And since number one is dying, you get the idea how great the fear of speaking in front of an audience is.
Some avoid getting anywhere near a microphone while others try it once or twice and then give up.
So, how do we overcome the fear of public speaking? How do we step behind a microphone without shaking like a leaf or feeling like we’re going to melt right there in front of everyone?
Part of the solution is found long before you ever put the microphone to your lips – the other part is what you do once you’re there. So, here are 5 tips that can help you overcome the fear of public speaking:
BEFORE YOU SPEAK
1. Take your thoughts captive. We tend to make mountains out of molehills and then wonder why our knees are knocking and stomachs are turning at the mere thought of standing behind a microphone. Don’t over-think the scenario of your speaking engagement. Honestly, it’s just a group of people… you know… people like you – people like the ones you talk to on a daily basis – people like the group of friends you have a conversation with. Just people. So don’t let you mind linger on the event looming largely on your horizon… Don’t allow your thoughts to make your speaking experience more than what it is.
2. Know your stuff. Those who have gathered to hear you speak are there for a purpose. Be thoroughly prepared before you ever head for the platform. Make a road map of your message. Know where to begin… where you want to take them… and where you want to end. Practice your message out loud a million times. Some even practice in front of the mirror (I don’t do that myself because it’s a little too awkward for me).
3. Be prayed up. You may be the best communicator in the world but one thing remains true… without Christ you can’t do anything but through Christ there’s nothing you can’t do. Saturate yourself in the Word and in prayer. Bask in His presence and seek His face for each person you’re going to be speaking to. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus and what He wants to say through you from His heart to theirs. I learned along time ago that I’m just to be a voice. That’s what John the Baptist was. That’s what you and I are.
WHILE YOU’RE SPEAKING
4. Break the ice. The first minute or two of an event is a bit awkward for the speaker and the audience. So, open with something light and even funny. It breaks down the walls that surround you and helps them discover you’re just a real woman with real issues who serves a real God who is real in real life. I normally start with something ridiculously stupid I’ve done that I can relate to the message. Laughter is definitely an ice-breaker!
5. Be yourself. Learn from others but don’t try to be who they are. The Lord wants to use you to deliver the message He gave you in the lives of those He is calling you to touch. No one can impact those women like you and you can’t impact them like anyone else. God uniquely created you to speak into people’s lives in an equally unique way. Trying to be like someone else will only make your knees knock worse and your heart pound faster because you’ll be putting on an act. Relax. If God has called you, He wants to use the real you, not your version of someone else.
So there you have it. Five tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.
Doing these things doesn’t mean you’ll never be nervous again. I’m nervous every time I step up to the mic. But it does mean you’ll know how to overcome that fear and get busy doing what you’re called to do.
Would you add anything else? What other advice have you heard (beside the one about picturing the audience in their underwear!) 🙂