Does public speaking make you cringe? If yes, I have good news. You are not alone. They say that people fear public speaking more than death. I used to be one of those people. There was a time in college when I wrote out my presentation word for word for my public speaking class and I read it verbatim terrified, shaking at the knees. I was so petrified and to be honest, no idea what I was talking about. I just did it because I had to, not because I wanted to.
Things are very different now. I have actually grown to love public speaking and have spoken at some highly regarded institutions that include Morgan Stanley, Columbia University, and New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. The main reason why I love it is because I am passionate about what I am talking about. The words that come through me are just an extension of my love for helping people get healthier and happier.
Here are some tips that have helped me overcome my fear of public speaking:
- Join a networking group like BNI: What has helped me is a safe place for me to practice. Groups like BNI have you present a short commercial about your business every week in front of a group of people (my group had almost 40 people). Also, every few months you present a 10-minute presentation about your business. These people are cheering you on and want you to succeed because they are also doing the same thing!
- Do your research but don’t prepare too much: I noticed that when I over prepare, I get nervous because my perfectionism comes out and I feel everything needs to go exactly the way I prepared it. Just a few bullet points and notes will set you up for success.
- Speak from your heart: When you are passionate about something, speaking about it will come naturally. People will feel that as well and will be even more engaged in what you have to say.
- Know that the audience wants you to win: People just want you to win. They are not sitting there waiting for you to mess up. They are secretly (or outwardly) cheering you on and also admiring you for having such courage!
- Visualize your success: Before any speaking engagement I always visualize myself standing in front of the group in a short but mindful meditation. Take a few long deep breaths and know all is well. What we think about comes about! Manifest your success!
The bottom line is, have fun! If you stumble upon your words, just keep going! If you forget something, take a glance at your notes. That’s what they are there for. Smile and laugh about it. The best presentations are when you are yourself and speaking from your heart and soul.
Jill Shapiro, IIN Class of 2011, is the founder of Wellness by Jill. She traded in a life full of stress and anxiety working in finance for green juice, meditation and yoga. She is passionate about empowering women in the corporate world that are stressed and tired from the demands of their jobs and frustrated with their health. She helps implement simple, healthy choices that make a big impact on women's lives as a whole. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.