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Anxiety And Public Speaking


Speaking Tips     Overcoming Fear     Speech Writing     Wedding Speeches
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Collosians 4:6

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"What questions do you have for my answers?"

Kissinger knew about anxiety and public speaking, but he also knew the power of preparation, and so do all smart presenters.

It's easy to think that public speakers make a lot of money for the relatively short time that they 'work' i.e. the actual duration of their speech.  But there's a flaw with that kind of math.  Because for every ten minutes that a truly great speaker spends on stage, he'd already spend 10 hours off stage, preparing.

By the time the actual 'event', the speech itself rolls by, the true preparation is complete, and the delivery itself is then usually the easiest part of the whole thing.
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Henry Kissinger was known as a spokesman who was always ready with a sharp and direct answer whenever the media confronted him with difficult questions.  When someone once asked him how he was able to always respond so well, he gave a telling reply:
Have you ever seen one of those pool & dominos videos where someone spends hours or days setting up an elaborate and complex trick, placing items all over a pool table or room in a choreographed fashion, each one having an effect the next. 

So that in the end, when all is set-up and prepared and the cameras are rolling, all that's needed is to set the trick in motion by knocking over the first domino.  The rest... is almost magical and everything plays out by itself and created a stunning effect.  Have a look at this Youtube video (right) if you've never seen one of these.
That's an accurate picture of what public speaking should be like.  The real work, the blood and sweat takes place in a private setting:  Speechwriting behind a desk, slide preparation behind a computer, rehearsing in a hotel room.  This is the bulk of the 'work' of public speaking, when this is done, and done thoroughly; the delivery itself is often the easiest part of the entire operation.

Anxiety and Public Speaking: Confidence in Preperation

So what does this have to do with overcoming your fear of public speaking?  Well, preparation is the one key element that will likely provide you more confidence than any of the other confidence tips I mention on this site.

Knowing that you know your stuff, that you've been over your material enough to almost have it memorized, that you've got the data and facts to back up whatever you're saying and that you've practiced and perfected the nuances you want to bring across in your speeches, will fill your fear tank with heaps of confidence and help you break the chain between anxiety and public speaking.

There's no denying this fact:  If you know that you're well prepared, you'll inevitably deliver a better presentation then if you're flogging together some ideas you jotted on a card last night before bed.

Masterful speakers like Steve Jobs, were known for their almost obsessive preparation schedules where everything from speech segments, demo's, and minuscule details of lighting and synchronization where rehearsed again and again and again, often for hours on end.

One of the biggest parts of preparation, that many new or even seasoned speakers, often overlook, is the idea of practicing your speech out loud, a few times, before the actual delivery.  I've written an entire article on the importance of practice as a principle for effective public speaking. 

Have a look at that if you still need convincing that real-time private practice will make a monumental improvement on your speeches and set you apart from the bulk of mediocre speakers who usually make it rather obvious that they did not rehearse well-enough before their live delivery.

So be confident in your material and have "answers for every question".  It's the single most powerful way to build confidence in yourself and keep the fear of public speaking at bay.