Have you ever had The Dream? You know the one. It comes in the night when you have to give a speech tomorrow or a week from tomorrow, but you really, really don't want to.
There you are, standing alone in front of the crowd, afraid to say a word because you know you're going to mess it up. You feel exposed, vulnerable. There's nothing between you and them to protect you. Uh-oh
You freeze. You open your mouth, but no sound comes out. There's no place to run, no place to hide. You're stuck, figuratively naked, insecure and terrified. Desperate, you look around frantically for someone to rescue you. You're at their mercy. The audience is about to rise up en masse and attack you! How can you save yourself? You've turned to stone! You can't move! What can you do?
You wake up!
You're shaking, shivering, sick to your stomach, and you know you just can't make that speech. Who would voluntarily put themselves in that position? You're not insane. No way. The speech is off.
But of course, it isn't. You really do have to do it. You've committed yourself, your job or your reputation depends on it, you can't chicken out every time you're asked to show how much you know. You do have something to say. Actually, you have a lot to say that the audience wants to hear or they wouldn't have asked you to speak in the first place. You are the right person, in the right place, at the right time. So why the terrible dream?
When you stand in front of an audience, the first thing to remember is that you are in control. You have the power. Whatever happens while you're speaking, you are in charge. Wherever you are standing, that place is the power spot of the room. The audience is looking to you for guidance and leadership. They have willingly given you control for the next 5, 10, 20, 30 or 45 minutes, however long you've been asked to speak. They want to learn from you. Their whole reason for being there is because you have something valuable to tell them and they want to hear it.
A little bit of pre-speech jitters is normal. Most speakers, from the neophyte to the most seasoned, feel the butterflies fluttering around inside, crashing into each other. That's the adrenaline we need to feel the extra boost of energy that makes us sound compelling and enthusiastic. Like bees to honey, the audience is attracted to our energy and our enthusiasm.
You are in charge. Not them. They are not your enemy; rather, they're your students and you're their teacher. You have the power to fill their minds and hearts with information they didn't have when they walked into the room. They're grateful. They're delighted. They're hungry for your knowledge, and you're feeding them.
You are in control. You have the power. They'll follow wherever you lead. Isn't that a great feeling?
Hold onto that power. Enjoy it. You deserve it!