Which do you fear more: public speaking, or death?

In just a couple weeks, I’ll be presenting a lecture on the research I’ve been doing to all my professors here at NBWM. The good news is I’ve got great material to work with, and there are no grades. The bad news is that, instead of teachers I’ve got professors watching me, and instead of grades, there is the serious possibility of humiliation. This will be my first real attempt at public speaking since high school, at which time I was devoting much more of my effort to making fun of the assignment/teacher rather than actually saying anything worthwhile.

I thought I’d copy over some of the tips from the book I’ve been reading, because they are brilliant:

First of all, don’t worry about being nervous—most experienced speakers are. If you are well prepared, this nervousness will feel like exhilaration instead of terror, powering your talk with energy that you can transmit to the audience. People who are too calm usually end up giving lackluster presentations. It’s like taking an exam—you do better if you are keyed up because the adrenaline sharpens your wits.

Nervous. I can do nervous.

Remember that, with very rare exceptions, the audience wishes you well, and that they are just poor mortals like yourself, in need of love and approval.

Love. They need my love.

Because you are onstage, you become in their eyes an authority figure, so it is up to you to make them them feel good.

Right. Make them feel good. I am an authority figure: respect my authoritah.

Try to feel affection for them, projecting as much warmth as you can.

Project warmth. Gotcha.

If you can forget about yourself and be genuinely concerned about the audience and their need for information and stimulation, you will not have time to be afraid.

genuinely concerned…

Try to be the kind of teacher Carl Jung admired:
“One looks back with great appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Warmth again. Must have warmth so my audience can grow, like the soul of a child. Yes.

Woodrow Wilson (another authority figure) was once asked how long it took him to write a speech. He answered, “That depends. If I am to speak in 10 minutes, I need a week for preparation. If 15 minutes, 3 days. If half hour, two days. If an hour, I am ready now.”

Luckily, I’ve still got two weeks.

Categories: Advice, Public Speaking

3 replies »

  1. this is great. the carl jung quote is too good. public speaking scares me too, but i usually find that i use up so much nervousness in the weeks leading up to the speaking, there isn’t very much left once i get up there. and then it’s kind of fun.


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