One of the more scathing tips is the famous “Imagine that your audience is naked!” The intention is good, but the advice is clearly useless. First of all, it’s not really polite to imagine everyone naked, but above all, it’s doesn’t seem serious to think that one can progress by weakening others (even by thoughts). And if you feel that this advice has been good for you before, it questions the type of relationship you sustain with your audience.
Verbally, your performance is not about being comfortable, or about getting your point of view out to the public. The only true criterion of performance is trust. It is useless to talk, if people don’t trust what you’re saying. And there is no point in asking them to move ahead, if they don’t trust your motivation. The best way to gain trust is to trust those listening to you.
There’s no need to strip your audience down. Instead, try to understand this fear, to establish a more serene relationship with your audience during your following speeches.
The fear of how others view you
The critiques are increasingly stronger vis-à-vis advertising and the media imposing on us to always be more powerful, stronger and more beautiful! The image we portray of ourselves should always be controlled and valued. But in the end, it is often the opposite that happens; we end up being afraid of how others view us, and ask ourselves “how do they perceive me? What do they think of me?” …
To challenge this fear, you can learn to free yourself from the view of others and build a secure image of yourself . These tips are some first steps in limiting your fear of others. You can also approach the problem differently by regaining control, not of your image, but of the purpose of your speeches. You will notice that in changing your outlook on the exercise of presenting, others’ view will change too.
Fear of the Unknown
Public speaking, even if you are well prepared (strongly advised), will always be a complex and unknown exercise. Something unplanned can always happen. And much of this uncertainty is generated by the audience who can, at any time, interrupt, chat, snicker… rather than fostering the audience’s mistrust, ask yourself: what if they have good reasons to intervene?
If my audience interrupts me…
If your audience interrupts, it can be for several reasons: to add to your remarks, to give their opinion, or share their reluctance vis-à-vis your idea. At any rate, as a speaker, you are there to accompany your audience, both with their concerns and with their lack of understanding. Your role is to accompany the audience on the path of your idea and your reasoning. There is no point in going to the end of your remarks, if you get there alone. You will find that most interruptions are ultimately beneficial because they allow to clarify a point or address an objection. In any case, think of Shakespeare: “Embrace what you cannot avoid.”
If my audience asks me questions…
Good news! If your audience asks questions, it is because you have aroused interest. We cannot both complain about people’s lack of interest and also dread their questions. The best way to answer questions is to anticipate them. Work beforehand on a list of answers associated with “trick questions.” This will enable you to be more serene on D-Day. However, know that you cannot imagine every single question that will be asked. It it’s possible to answer a question immediately, then do it. But you don’t need to answer every question that drops on you. You’re not a student who needs to prove that he has learned his lessons. Note the points you will need to come back to and don’t forget to address them later, it will be a great way to nourish your relationship with your audience.
Finally, don’t forget that by speaking, you are there for others. If you want to convey a message, it is above all for them. The more you take care of your audience, the more they will take care of you in return.