The history books are full of speakers who by their own admission tell of how they were quivering, nauseous wrecks even moments before an important speech. Many are very open in talking about how they thought they would never get through it yet somehow managed to not only do so but also deliver their message with power and impact.
The world is full of people who perceive themselves to lack the public speaking prowess and confidence to inspire an audience into action yet often that is all it is, a personal perception; a belief.
We all know how the mind can he help us to conceive and achieve our greatest dreams or confine us to limitation and misery and its no different when it comes to speaking.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have personally coached individuals who consider themselves to be excessively anxious when speaking and believe their nerves to be to the detriment of their presentation. On occasion that may be the case but for the most part when those same people see themselves on video they cannot see any evidence of the stress that plagued them.
The key to overcoming such anxiety is intent.
That is having a sincere, honest and heartfelt intention to share something that you believe will be of real value to your audience. You may not necessarily have full confidence in yourself but you do need confidence in your message and in your intent.
Take J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement address as you can see on the video. She begins her speech with the opening line:
“The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight”.
After rapturous applause and laughter she settles into her stride and not only immediately connects with her audience but is moments away from winning them over completely.
How does she do it whilst openly claiming such angst?
She endears herself to her audience through 3 of the most powerful communication tools known to man since the advent of public speaking.
– Self disclosure – which in its simplest form is the process of opening yourself up a little to your audience while accepting the feeling of vulnerability that accompanies doing so. In the case of J.K. Rowling she humbly lets her audience into her personal world as she shares some of the challenges she faced on her journey.
– Story – the greatest way to connect with your audience is through the power of story. Watch how J.K. Rowling achieves this connection with her audience as she shares hers with them.
– Message – it’s through the power, clarity and belief in our own message that the fear, doubt and confusion dissipates and leaves us free to deliver our point authentically and with sincerity.
In this case as you can see J.K. Rowling more than admirably delivered hers:
“I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.”
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