People who aren't comfortable speaking in public have dozens of reasons why they can't or won't do it. Maybe it's a really debilitating fear. But maybe it's just laziness or a reluctance to work harder to achieve something that doesn't come easily. The truth is that wherever your reluctance comes from, it's possible to overcome it. Here's the question to ask yourself: "What would my life look like, how would it be improved, if I weren't afraid?"
Let's imagine a few typical scenarios.
You're in line for a promotion in your company, but you'll have to lead your team and make presentations to potential customers. However, your reluctance to speak in front of these important groups makes you shiver in your shoes. What are you afraid of?
Your best friend wants you to be his best man. You never have a problem hanging out with your buddies drinking beer and telling stories. But standing in front of the wedding party, you're afraid you'll forget what you want to say, the audience won't laugh at your jokes, and you'll feel like an idiot. Better to decline the honor than to risk making a fool of yourself.
You need to network to promote your new business, to actually get up in front of your target market and tell them how terrific your product or service is. But what if you don't say it right, you forget something really important, or you're so shaky and light-headed that you rush through your speech? Everyone will see how incompetent you are. They'll automatically think your product or service can't be any good, either.
What is the one simple common denominator in all of these scenarios?
If you're thinking it's the fear... think again.
It's not the fear...it's the focus.
When you get up to give a speech, what should you be focusing on? What should you really be thinking about?
Not your fear of being judged or the memory of a previous experience where you were laughed at or corrected, told to shut up or ignored completely. Not whether the audience is listening or falling asleep.
When you speak to any group of people, the trick is not to focus on how you feel at all. The trick is to focus on them!
More specifically, focus on the gift you're giving them. And how much your gift is going to benefit them!
Your gift is your knowledge. Your knowledge is unique and how you deliver it is unique. The audience wants to learn from you. They want to know more when they leave the room than they did when they came in. They're like baby birds, mouths open, chirping away: "Feed me! Feed me!" You're the parent bird, bringing food to the open mouths that depend on you.
When you focus on giving your gift, you can't at the same time be thinking about yourself. The way our minds are constructed, we think sequentially. We only have room for one thought at a time.
When you're focusing on the benefits you're giving to your audience, you can't focus on being afraid. You're too busy focusing on giving them what they came for.
It's all about them. It's not about you.
Whenever you speak, you have the opportunity to influence and to inspire. You'll be so busy influencing and inspiring your audience with the gift of your knowledge that you won't have time to think of anything else. When you focus on your gift, you'll forget to be afraid.