Public speaking has long been known as the biggest fear people face. It often ranks above death as the biggest fear, which goes to show just how big the threat of speaking is to our mind.
This is due to a concept called loss aversion – which essentially means the cost of losing something is twice as painful as gaining the same thing. A simple example would be a fifty pound note. The research shows it is twice as painful to lose a fifty pound note as it is to gain one.
People are motivated more by what they stand to lose. This effect increases the more valuable the thing being considered is.
Is there anything more about how the way you perceive how safe you are? Safety tops the list of our brain’s priorities become it is entangled with survival.
How you feel about yourself, your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, are absolutely crucial to answering that all important question…
“Will I be okay?”
Precisely because it’s so valuable, anything that risks those precious components of our self-image is seen as dangerous.
Public speaking is standing out from the crowd (vulnerable), sharing your thoughts with the world (even more vulnerable) and opening yourself up for criticism (hyper vulnerable).
With these in play, we can see how public speaking is perceived to be so dangerous.
But, there are some simple tips and tricks confident speakers use to enjoy speaking on camera; here they are:
- Gain clarity on your message. What have you experienced to get here and why has that journey led you to want to speak about this topic? When we ‘join the dots’ as Steve Jobs called it, we can see how our journey has brought us here and that steeps us in authenticity. When you have that level of certainty on why you’re here, it makes you feel so much more comfortable.
- Imagine you are speaking to one person. When you contemplate getting in front of the camera, often our minds become very creative and start running scary movies about us saying or doing something wrong in front of millions of people. The trick is to disengage from all that catastrophising, and imagine you are having a chat with just one person. It makes the pressure melt away, the worry dissolve, and gives it a genuine, authentic vibe – just like you’re chatting with a friend.
- Focus on the message, not the messenger. When we make speaking on camera all about us, it ramps up the pressure. When we recognise that it’s the message that is doing the leg work, and we are simply delivering the message, it becomes about the content. People may agree with you or they may disagree with you. But it’s not about who you are, it’s just about an idea you’re sharing.
- Stick to what you know. The more certain you are about your topic area, the easier it is for you to get into the flow. Sometimes we try to branch out to early and do something on the fly, and it’s this that often causes a spike in anxiety. If however, you can stay focused on your area of expertise, then you have a greater certainty in your voice and it make the whole experience more enjoyable.
- Balance your perceptions. Most of us have a clear idea in our head of how we want to deliver, and how we want to be perceived in our video. Having a clear aim and direction for this is great. But if you become too attached to delivering in a certain way, it can cause huge frustration. For example, having the expectation that only a flawless, wonderfully articulate speech is the only acceptable outcome dramatically increases the pressure. Identifying where you are on your journey to date, the level of practice you have under your belt, and the idea that mistakes and errors are part of the process helps to frame the experience as one of learning, as opposed to one of pass or fail.
- Overcome the need for praise. When we are of the mindset that we need praise, we automatically resent its opposite – criticism. But, if we can see that both praise and criticism have their advantages, and both are needed to help us grow, then we can release the need for only getting praise. This again diffuses the pressure and allows criticism to be seen for what it is; a part of the whole and nothing more.
These tips and tactics will rapidly help you to overcome any fear of speaking or expressing yourself, and move you into the top 20% of your field simply by virtue of your ability to speak on camera.
After that, the world is your oyster.