Question: What do giving a holiday speech and giving a holiday gift have in common?

Answer: We use the same principles to give a speech or to give a gift!

When we think of the folks on our holiday gift list, whether they're the people we work, live or network with, we take into consideration their likes and dislikes, the financial limits we all agree to observe, and then try to come up with something they'll appreciate that they didn't have before. Something that will make them feel we care about them. And when they smile and say, "Thanks, I love this, it's just what I need!" they'll really mean it.

This is a great technique for overcoming the fear of giving a speech at a holiday event. Whether it's a few words of welcome or a 10-minute recap of the past year's success, when we break down the elements of our gift-giving technique, we find three simple principles:

a. We need to give something that has value to them.

b. We need to stay within a few mutually agreed upon rules.

c. We need to think about what they would like and would please them the most.

Question: What do all three of these principles have in common?

Answer: It's all about them!

When we're choosing what to give, we're not thinking about ourselves. We're thinking about them: what will they like, what will be appropriate for them, what will make them feel we cared enough to find something worthwhile they didn't have before? When we're giving a gift, at holiday time or any time, we're asking ourselves, "W.I.I.F.T.? What's in it for them?"

When we give a speech, the key to not being afraid is to use exactly the same principles:

a. The information we're giving them is valuable.

b. We're going to speak for an agreed upon amount of time in a format they can easily absorb in language they'll understand.

c. Our talk is our gift to them. They want to leave the room knowing more than they did when they came in. We're giving them what they came to get and they'll be extremely pleased to take it home with them.

Question: What is the key to not being afraid?

Answer: "W.I.I.F.T? What's in it for them?"

Notice: In these three principles, there's no "I". We can't be thinking about ourselves at the same time that we're thinking about them.

When we're focused on giving the audience our gift, impressing on them the value of the information we're sharing and making sure they're getting what they came for, we don't have time to be afraid. There's no room to wonder if we're saying it right, if everyone agrees, if perhaps that guy in the third row thinks what we're saying is hogwash, if they've got a basket of rotten apples under their seat ready to let fly at the first mistake we make. We can't possibly be thinking about any of those things because our minds don't work that way.

Our brains are wired to think sequentially, one thought after another. It's physically impossible to hold two opposing thoughts in the same moment. Thus if we're focusing our attention on making our message land, on giving the audience our gift with passion and gusto, we can't possibly worry about whether we're doing it 'right', making a mistake or forgetting something important. In other words, we can't be afraid because we're too busy sharing what we know, giving the audience the gift they came for, focusing on knowledge they didn't have before they entered the room.

Our job is to give them our gift. When we do our job, the fear disappears. Giving them the gift of our knowledge, we feel strong, confident, unique, sexy, and proud. We have nothing to fear.