Public Speaking Myth: Great Speakers Don’t Get Stage Fright

stage fright logoMark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”

I believe that pretty much everyone gets stage fright to some degree. Now, having said that, I can tell you that there have been times when I have taken the stage as a performer with zero anxiety and I am not proud of that fact. Years ago, when I was playing music in bars for a living, there were nights when taking the stage meant no more to me than a job to make money and I did it because that’s what I was hired to do.

On some of those late nights in lonely pubs with a handful of very intoxicated patrons, I felt no stage fright when I took the stage. That made me realize it was time for me to get out of that business, and I did.  However, I can’t remember a single time when I took the stage to speak without having at least some nerves.

Some speakers show no sign of fear, that’s true. That’s because those speakers have learned to acknowledge the fear, respect it and turn it into a constructive energy so what they feel drives them toward a better performance. They prepare so thoroughly, and they know the techniques so well, that they feel excitement more than fear. As a speaker, you want that fear and excitement. You need that… Continue reading

Public Speaking Myth: The Fear Is All In My Head

all-in-your-headWhat happens to you when it’s your turn to speak in public? Do your hands shake? Does your pulse race? Does your blood pressure rise? For most of us the answers to these and other physical manifestations would be a resounding “YES!”

In his book, Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina explains what happens in your body when you’re stressed. He explains that when you’re faced with a stressful situation, either positive or negative, a structure in your brain called the hypothalamus reacts to the stress and sends a signal to your adrenal glands, which immediately dumps loads of adrenaline into your bloodstream, triggering what is known as the fight or flight response.

When adrenaline enters your system, it helps the fight or flight response by boosting your heart rate and increasing your breathing rate. This reaction allows more oxygen to course through your body so that a lot of energy is available when needed. Your pupils dilate to improve your vision, and most of the blood supply is directed to the skeletal muscles that help you run or fight, all the while restricting blood flow to your gut and skin by constricting blood vessels to these areas.

This all means that the fear of speaking isn’t just in your head. It affects your entire physical being and alters the way you present yourself when you finally take the stage.

The fear of speaking isn’t something you can talk… Continue reading

Public Speaking Myth: FEAR=“False Evidence Appearing Real”

FEARMany of us have heard that the word FEAR is really nothing more than an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Many motivational speakers and personal development-types use this definition to remind us that the things we fear the most are usually not worthy of the emotional baggage we tend to attach to them.

I believe this definition of the word FEAR holds merit in the business of day to day living. You have probably been in situations where you create the worst-case scenario in your head and project that scenario as the most probable outcome of the situation. Then you attach the associated emotional baggage to that outcome and let that baggage drive the way you respond to the other things that happen in your life.

When the situation does finally resolve itself, you discover the scenario you created in your mind did not materialize. The outcome was not nearly as bad as you anticipated. Certainly, it was not worthy of the emotional baggage you attached to it. Worse still, you were living your life based on a scenario that never evolved. For that entire time, your life was driven by the emotional baggage that was attached to an outcome based on false evidence that only appeared to be real.

There are situations, however, when fear isn’t based on false evidence that only appears to be real. Worst-case scenarios may be the most… Continue reading

How Do You Master Your Content?

Master-YodaMasterful speakers get to the point where they never need notes or slides to get them through. Anyone can get to this point. All you need to do is go through your content until your content comes through you. Spend less time memorizing your speech and more time mastering your content. When you master your content it will flow out of your mouth like your own name. How do you master your content?

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Profundity in the Mundane?

The Thinker by Rodin

Here’s a challenge…for just one day, pay special attention to the things that happen all around you and find one normal event from which you can draw a lesson. Then turn that event into a story that you can use in a presentation or keynote address. Share a short version of it here so that we can all see how you can find profundity in the seemingly mundane. Are you up for it?


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