One of the biggest fears most people have about public speaking is their audience wants to see them fail. Well, here is a dirty little public speaking secret – they don’t. That’s right. Most human beings, when watching a public speaking event, do not take joy in the idea of the speaker doing badly. In fact, just the opposite.
Public speaking is routinely among the top fears of humankind. And because we admire people who do things of which we are afraid, you will gain the admiration and support of your audience just by virtue of standing in front of them. In short, you own the room without even opening your mouth.
This should empower you the next time you have the opportunity to speak in public. You have conquered a fear that, the studies say, is for most people stronger than the fear of death! That alone puts you in a very elite group.
So now that you know the first secret to winning your audience over, here are a few more tips to help you own the next room you speak in front of:
Don’t underestimate this one. Smiling is a powerful tool in the public speaker’s kit, for a couple of important reasons. First, a genuine smile is a universal sign of peace and tranquility to human beings. Anywhere you go in the world a smile means the same thing. So, you should consciously smile at your audience.
The second, and maybe more important, reason is that smiling actually makes you feel better. So smiling puts you and your audience in a better mood. Win-win.
2) Face your audience
This is a lesson learned from theater. The rule of thumb in stage acting is “never turn your back to your audience”, but it can be taken further. If possible, don’t place any sort of obstacle (like a lectern, desk, computer stand, etc.) between you and your beloved listeners. Open yourself up to them physically, and they will open up to you intellectually and emotionally.
This also goes for eye contact. You can be standing right in from of an audience, but if you are looking at the ground or the back wall, you are not properly facing them. Great communication is transactional, so transact with your folks and they will be with you.
3) Think of it like this…
Public speaking is not a battle to be won, it is an experience to be shared. Your audience doesn’t want to be conquered, they want to be inspired, informed and entertained. And they will give you the benefit of the doubt. Always remember, you have overcome a fear that many of them never will, so they are already impressed with you.
You can do this. Your audience is pulling for you. The room is yours, so own it.
Thanks for reading.