If you have any kind of fear surrounding public speaking, we’ve found they get even worse when you only have FIVE or less minutes up there to speak.
If you’re like me, you can end up with a real physiological reaction to public speaking that actually causes you to sweat, shake, talk too fast, forget what you’re going to say, or even not be able to speak at all. That too may get even worse when you only have FIVE or less minutes up there to speak.
I’ve got some reassuring news for you…
You really are in good company.
40% of all people in the United States report that their #1 fear is public speaking. Forty Percent! That’s even higher than fear of snakes! If you’re in that 40%, these are the first steps to strengthen your presentation skills, learn to really connect with your audience in 5 minutes or less, before another one of these 5 minute presentations causes one more wasted moment of panic stricken frenzy.
The first thing you should know is that it’s OK to be nervous. You just can’t SHOW it. Here’s a 3-step plan for you to stop the sweaty palms, and rid yourself of your fear and anxiety once and for all:
Step 1: Remove the nervous habits that show your audience the fear you are secretly trying to hide.
Remember, it’s not whether you ARE nervous or fearful…it’s whether you SHOW it. The problem is that most presenters aren’t even aware of the things they’re doing that show it. ESPECIALLY in the first five minutes. (That’s when you’re the most nervous). To find out your nervous habits, you’ll need a video recording of yourself to identify what you’re doing. (Yes, a video recording…of the first five minutes.) Look for these signs:
Top Signs You’re Nervous
- Shifting your weight
- Crossing and uncrossing your arms and (when seated) legs
- Pacing back and forth
- Rubbing your hands, arms, etc
- Looking away from the audience
- Covering or touching your face
- Putting your hands in the T-Rex position, pockets, or behind back
- Loosening your collar
- Blinking excessively
- Overusing your hands with constant hand movement
- Laughing inappropriately
- Widening eyes for no reason
- Raising your eyebrows for no reason
- Letting your mouth hand open
Step 2: Practice to Perfection
The primary need of your audience is to feel safe with you, and among their peers, so that’s what you must deal with first…once they trust you, they will feel safe. The best way to start is with a thoroughly rehearsed strong opening.
- First you have to create irresistible content…
- Then you have to practice it to perfection.
I suggest you run through your entire presentation at least three times in real time and in the exact circumstances of your presentation. For example, if you’re not in the actual presentation room, practice in a room of similar size. If you’ll be on stage, practice on a stage. If you are at all nervous, run through the opening portion.
Practice everything up to the reveal of the topics—at least six times. I am amazed so many people take such care with the content of their presentation and don’t spend much time thinking about the first impression they make when they come onstage. Some presenters even start by fiddling with the mic.
The audience doesn’t know if the person on stage is the presenter or the AV tech until the person says, “I guess I’d better turn the mic up. I have a very soft voice.” But these openers, all of which I have actually heard, aren’t any better:
- “Can everybody hear me?”
- “I’ll talk for about 45 minutes or so.”
- “I know your all very busy.”
- “I’m very glad to be here.”
- “I’m a graphic designer.”
- “All right, I just want to start with a little story…”
- “Hey. So first and foremost, I really want to um, thank everybody.”
- “Probably the first thing I should tell you is…”
- “You guys are awesome.”
- “Uh, all right, before I get started…”
- “So I’ve been up here a few times today, although I have not properly introduced myself.”
- “All right, let’s get started.”
Such awkward comments are not compelling and don’t make a presenter seem credible. The audience feels disappointed, its expectations are deflated. To connect with your audience, even before you say a word, you have to make an impressive physical impression. To do that, your first need to practice your presentation the right way. Prepare to take your game to the next level and even cue yourself without losing your audience. If you want to see me model and teach the exact steps to prepare your five minute presentation so well that you know the content “lights out” click here:
It’s time for step 3…
Step 3: Deliver a Powerful Impression
If you tell me you have a panic attack the moment you stand in front of your audience, I’ll bet I know what your problem is. And—though all these things matter—it’s not because of how you’re standing or that your voice is cracking or that you’re talking too loud or too fast or that you’re sweating.
It’s not because of anything you are doing. It’s what you are not doing…
- You haven’t kept your focus.
- You’ve forgotten that the presentation isn’t about you; it’s about your audience.
When you’re meeting the audience members for the first time, when you’re making that first impression, how YOU’RE feeling and what you’re doing doesn’t matter as much as how THEY’RE doing and how they’re feeling. You should be concentrating on their feelings and their needs. When you do, your audience will SEE YOU as less nervous. And THAT results in less fear for you.