I recently completed a life coaching certification through the John Maxwell Team and it was an amazing experience. Through the experience, I learned some amazing things about coaching and speaking. Some of those lessons came from the conference, others came from conversations with fellow coaches. The public speaking tips I learned completely changed my perspective and fears on speaking. If you could learn three simple tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking, would you be interested?
Be Interested In Your Audience
Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends And Influence People, has an excellent quote to help drive home this first tip. He says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Wow, that is convicting for me. How many times have I tried to get people interested in me to get attention? How many times have I tried to prove how smart I am to gain credibility? This quote is a powerful reminder of how fruitless those efforts are.
When it comes to speaking, if you find yourself standing in front of people and your main concern is you, you’ve got it wrong. If your concern is to make sure you sound good, look good, have all the answers, etc., you have the wrong focus. Yes, we need to present ourselves and our content well, but if we stay focused on us we are failing the audience.
So the solution is to know take an interest in your audience. Do research on specific people in the audience or the company you’re working with. When you do this, your genuine interest will be evident in your presentation or speech. If you are there to be the focus, your message will fall flat. If you are there to make your audience the focus, everyone wins. The next tip takes your interest in your audience and allows you to use that to bring value to them.
Bring Content That Brings Value
John Maxwell is quoted as saying, “To add value to others, one must first value others.” This seems so basic yet it’s a very valuable insight on public speaking and leadership. We need to step out of the way and allow the audience to become the most significant in the room. Then we will be able to bring something of real value to them. Something beyond ourselves.
When this tip or idea finally clicked in my mind it completely changed my perspective on public speaking. Now when I stand in front of an audience my thinking has changed. It’s gone from, I have to prove to these people how much I know, how interesting I am, and not look nervous doing it. To a focus on needing to show people how interesting they are to me and providing something of great value to them.
If they are giving me their time and attention, I want to honor them by being concerned with them and not me. When my presentation is about adding value to them, the pressure is turned way down. Now it becomes a joy to share what I have to say with them.
But you may ask, what is this “something of value” I can bring? It’s a gift you have to give to them.
Trust Your Gift
This third tip brings us to why you’re up front in the first place. If the people who put you on the stage didn’t believe you have something valuable to give, some sort of gift to offer the audience, they wouldn’t put you up there. This means you do have some sort of gift you’ve been given. This gift is meant to be shared.
In my case, it’s the gift of helping people build a LifeMap or talking to them about DISC. In either case, I want to gift people with helpful information and ideas in either subject. God has given me a special passion for LifeMap and for DISC that no one else has like I do.
Sure, there are other people that are passionate about life planning or about behavior. But not in my unique way. (They have their own unique way.) This is my gift. And the worst thing I can do is get in the way of this gift by not sharing it. When you realize the passions you have are a special gift that only you have, what better way to use it than to share it with others. Trust your gift.
Public Speaking Can Be A Great Experience
If we take the time to research our audience, our genuine interest will inspire us to be at our best because we care about our audience. This takes the focus off of us. Once we do this we can change the way we understand public speaking. In our minds, now the focus is on our audience, its needs, and how to add value to them. Lastly, we can trust the gift we have to offer our audience.
When it comes to public speaking, these tips highlight three important things. No one else can take an interest in your audience like you can. No one else can add value to their lives like you can. And no one else has the same passion and gifting for the subject you are speaking on as you do.
When you lean into this mentality about public speaking, it will be a great experience for you and most importantly, for your audience.
What are your fears about public speaking?