The Mindset of an Anxious Public Speaker
What do CEOs, leaders, managers and career professionals have in common?
They all fear public speaking engagements.
The Difference Between a Confident and Anxious Speaker.
As a public speaker, the speaker is the authority. This is often the case when an industry expert is a keynote speaker sharing their findings from a PHD and years of research.
In the workplace, though, many speakers presenting updates, chairing meetings or speaking in front of colleagues, don’t see themselves as an expert even when the audience does.
The Speakers Mindset
This self-identity as a fraud (commonly known as ‘imposter syndrome’) leads to speaker-anxiety. Common signs of speaker anxiety are negative self-talk ‘what will everyone think of me?’ avoidance of audience eye-contact and verbal filler words at the speech start.
Anxiety, though, doesnt simply begin as a speaker walks onto the stage. In fact, anxiety is seeded many weeks before the dreaded speaking engagement.
When the process of putting together a presentation or the creation of a speech starts, the anxious speaker starts from the perspective of ‘i’m a failure.’ The speaker believing they don’t know enough about a subject, or that they will simply ‘mess-up’ the presentation or that the audience will be bored by the presenter’s oration skills, will often plan to present data or information.
‘Death by PowerPoint’ is rooted in this mindset. To feel more confident a weak speaker will read the text written on the PowerPoint (which the audience can read for themselves if they so wish) with the knowledge that they can get it wrong if the plan to mimic the presentation slides.
Speaking with Confidence
Confident speakers plan from another perspective – ‘how can I have an impact on my audience?’
The confident speaker will first want to know who their audience is?
- Experts on the subject?
- Colleagues with insight?
- Senior managers with a general understanding but lacking subject detail?
- A group of novices?
Next, a confident speaker will focus on how they can have an imapct on the audience?
- Why is the audience attending the meeting or presentation?
- What does the audience need to know?
- Is the impact goal for the audience to take immediate action, to change a belief or to be emotionally moved?
Finally, when lacking anxiety an orator will focus on their delivery, not the fear of looking stupid on stage.
- Should I present data in the form of a story or a metaphor?
- Will the use of props, images of charts help improve the impact of the speech?
- Would the use of eye contact or audience engagement to increase the impact of the presentation?
The difference between an anxious and confident speaker is their mindset, focusing on self or others. Anxious public speakers are focused on how they will look, whereas a confident orator focusing on how they can best impact their audience.