What Is Your Audience Thinking?

        When you have to give a speech, do you ever worry about anything like this? 

"If I make a mistake, the audience will think I'm stupid."

"I have an accent. They won't listen to me or understand what I'm saying."

"They'll see how nervous I am and think I'm incompetent."

"English is not my first language. If I say things wrong, they'll laugh at me."

"I just know the audience is going to judge me and decide I'm no good."

        If you've ever thought any of this, be comforted. You're not alone. Fear of what the audience is thinking is one of the most common reasons that folks refuse to get up to speak in front of a group. And it's a shame, because 9 times out of 10, the audience is thinking none of those things.

        Why did they come to hear you speak in the first place?  Doesn't matter whether they're required to come, i.e. to a company meeting, or they chose to come because you're speaking on a topic they're interested in, or they're there for some other reason. The truth is they came because you have something to say that they want to hear.

        The audience is there to learn. You know something that will help them improve their lives in some way. What you have to say is important because it will increase their store of knowledge which in turn will affect their ability to perform their jobs or interact with their colleagues or take care of their families. You have information they need to be better in some important aspect of their daily lives.

        Don't believe me? Think it over. Why do you go to hear a speaker? Do you go because you're waiting to jeer at a mistake or because you hope to fill a gap in your knowledge or experience?  Do you carry a bunch of rotten apples in your pocket or are you ready to applaud what you hear that speaks to your mind or your heart? Don't you want to be so caught up in learning something that the time just flies by?

        It's really true that the audience wants to know more when they leave than they did when they arrived. They want to take home with them the gift of your knowledge that they didn't have when they came into the room. That's what they came for.

        Whenever you get up to speak, the audience is sitting there with open arms and an open mind, waiting to receive the knowledge that only you can give them. It's a terrific opportunity. You're not just getting up to speak. It's your chance to give a valuable gift to people who want to receive it. How great is that?