Public Speaking is a Series of One-to-One Conversations
To reduce stage fright, approach public speaking as more of a “me-to-you” discussion rather than a full-blown broadcast, suggests G.I. Taylor in the Fear of Speaking blog. I agree with the idea of being able to talk only to one person at a time when you are in front of groups. When you master this, speaking to an audience becomes a series of conversations with one person. The work then becomes learning how to connect and be present with an individual when all other eyes in the room are on you.
Practice Relating One-to-One in a Supportive Group
To develop the ability to speak and be with just one person while standing in front of an audience initially requires a supportive, non-judgmental group of people. You will find this quality of support in a Speaking Circle® where everyone agrees to focus on what they like about being with you and what is already positive about you. In this way, your natural and best qualities are affirmed and you have the chance to experience and grow them from the inside out.
Remember You Speak One-to-One All Day Long
Focusing your attention on one person while an entire group is looking at you is like developing a new muscle. We call this the Relational Presence muscle and it grows stronger as you practice really looking, connecting with, and speaking to only one person. You remember that talking to someone one-to-one is not scary and you realize you do this all day long with friends and colleagues. In this way you apply what you might already be great at. Just transfer that conversational ability and you have mastered one of the secrets to reducing stage fright.
Doreen’s Essential Speaking Tip:
You can practice becoming even more connected to your listener when you have your next one-on-one conversation. You might tell the other person that you are deliberately practicing being intentionally with one person. While you speak, be present, feel yourself connected to your own voice, look at the person, notice that there is natural engagement. Now when you speak to a group (you might get friends to practice with you) speak only and directly to one person at a time.
Thanks Doreen! This comes at just the right moment for me. I’ve always gotten overwhelmed at the idea of speaking in public and have been looking for ways to avoid the red-faced, want-to-fall-into-a-hole feeling I get when reading to or speaking in front of large groups. Thanks for the tips.