When it comes to public speaking, there’s usually two types of people:
- Those who LOVE it
- Those who HATE it
I know that hate is a strong word but I think it’s an appropriate description of those who have a fear of public speaking. For the majority of people the latter is true. There’s a lot that you can do to work on your fear: deep breathing exercises, practice, hypnosis, etc. However, what if you’re still not at the level you want to be but still have to give a speech or presentation?
There’s a expression that I like for this situation. It’s “act as-if”. Acting “as-if” means that you project an image “as-if” you are already confident. I know this may sound difficult or like you are not being yourself. However, in a situation like public speaking, acting confident can actually lead you to feeling confident.
The other expression that goes with this is “fake until you make it”. I know fake is not a great word and it may sound deceiving. However, again can lead to actually feeling confident. You goal is to feel confident. Until you actually feel that way, acting confident can work just as well.
The theory behind this is that the more you act a certain way, even if it’s not how you feel, can train the mind to eventually feel that way. In our example, if you don’t like public speaking, you can “act” as if you do. Act confident on stage, project your voice, smile, even joke with the audience. The more you act this way, the more the brain will think that this is the proper way to act. You are training you mind to be in a certain “state”. For those with public speaking fear, that state is “confidence” or “relaxation”.
Try this the next time you need to give a speech. When you practice your speech (even if you’re alone), act confident. Focus on the feeling of being in control and the feeling of confidence. Visualize your audience and how you will “act” confident when you’re in front of them. By visualizing this, you will also train you mind to be in that “state” when you are in front of the audience. Visualization exercises can be very powerful.
So, the next time you need to give a speech and you’re not actually feeling confidence, remember this: No one knows how you’re feeling unless you tell them. If you act confident on stage (even if you don’t feel it), you will project that confidence and you’re audience will feel it. Eventually you may not have to “fake” it any more, you may feel that way naturally. And THAT is you ultimate goal.