As human beings, public speaking is one of our top three fears. Dying is another one!
This makes public speaking a topic high on people’s agendas. People see public speaking as an important area for improvement, and not without reason.
Public speaking is showing yourself
Public speaking is not only about presenting in front of a group, but also about showing yourself. Public speaking is a metaphor for expressing emotions. It is also a way to experience power through vulnerability.
And that is often most fearful for us human beings, because we like to be liked. We like to be loved. We like to stay away from all of our past traumas and the people who have put us down in the past.
They might have done this consciously, or we may have felt overwhelmed or overruled by other personality types. Mastering public speaking is a metaphor for being yourself and showing yourself.
Find your “centimetre” when speaking
What we know from experience is that to overcome fear you need to find your “centimetre”. “Your centimetre” refers to a metaphor from playing golf. The comparison is with a golf player who changes the position of their body.
When a golf player makes one very small change, this causes an enormous change in the direction and range of the ball on the course. When a player adjusts the angle and position of their feet and body, by just one single centimetre, the impact of the ball on the horizon is much more and multiplied at least 10.000 times.
If everyone could find their centimetre for public speaking, you wouldn’t need a list of tips and tricks, such as imagining the audience naked. Well, if that is your centimetre, it could work as well!
Different approaches for different people
In our experience of training dozens of speakers, whether they are professionals or amateurs, the way to change one’s state has everything to do with finding one’s centimetre. It could be an aspect of voice like volume, tonality or pace; it could be a thought or even better, stopping thoughts; it could be stopping self-talk (which we all do) or it could be a movement of the body.
A lot of the time, it could be as simple as a belief in yourself, about others or about being in general.
Tune in to who you are
Some say that when you are relaxed, you are being yourself, more than in any other emotional or physical state. And it’s almost too good to be true. Breathing could be a centimetre as well. But you know what the biggest centimetre is – it’s the one you find yourself.
You realise it when you experience it; when you truly have played with seeing, with hearing, with feeling, with all of your senses as well as your self-talk and thoughts.
This is when you discover that mind and body are the only real keys to bringing a message across. And that you never, and we mean never, need to rely on a PowerPoint or any other support mechanism for a great public speech.
An idea, staying close to yourself, really accepting yourself and relying on self-esteem rather than self-confidence is the way to inspire, inform or achieve whatever your intention is for your public speech.
The best ways of self-expression
Obviously, you can use anchors to get yourself into a state, and you can work on your self- confidence, your posture, your voice or your beliefs. But in the end, it is about expressing yourself and being really congruent in that.
Congruent in a way that your body, your voice, your thoughts and beliefs match your words, which are only a small, albeit crucial, part of your impact. When you truly show yourself, people feel and connect with that.
Just be yourself
And in the end, it is important to realise that about one-third of people will like you, one-third will not like you, and the last third will not care either way.
But when you show yourself, it is no longer about liking. It is about something else; and just “being” could be one of these things.
Peter Koijen and Ligia Ramos