One of the most powerful skills an entrepreneur can develop is that of public speaking. Unfortunately, it's also America's biggest phobia. According to the Chapman University Survey on American Fears an incredible 25.3 percent of Americans say they fear speaking in front of a crowd.
Mastering this public speaking helps entrepreneurs to pitch investors, give sales presentations and motivate employees. Starting out as an entrepreneur at the age of 26, I realized just what a useful skill it would be to have so I took every chance I could to talk in front of crowds. It was the blunt force method much like what Tony Robbins did when he was starting out.
There were a few hiccups along the way. I'm grateful that the cameras weren't working for one of my early speeches. But as they say, you live and learn. And learned I did. Over the years, I have found three unique techniques that can help anyone overcome their fear of public speaking.
1. Learn a few magic tricks. Really.
When people think about magic, they imagine sawing a woman in half or making a card vanish into thin air. What they don't realize is just how useful magic is in helping you master public speaking.
Thanks to YouTube, it takes less than a few hours to learn five or ten basic tricks that can be done almost anywhere with just a deck of cards or some common items. Once you have them down pat, all you need is a few willing spectators. Start with your friends, then after you have some confidence, ask some random people at the mall.
While I didn't intend to, I ended up spending close to two hours a day for over a year learning magic because it was so enjoyable. It's a surprisingly easy way to overcome your fear of speaking in front of an audience. As a bonus, if you keep at it, you'll also learn humor, audience control, and various presentation techniques all that can be used in business.
2. Watch yourself (and take notes).
Start with an audience of one - you. Most people think talking in front of a camera is easy, but you'd be surprised. It takes time. Set up your smartphone and then try giving a speech or sales presentation. Once you're finished watch yourself and take notes of things you do wrong. Warning: the first time you do this, it will shock you.
It's remarkable how many bad habits we have from "umms" and "ahs" to looking up or down at the wrong time. Once you know where you're going wrong, repeat the process over focusing on trying to reduce the areas you struggle with. I'm still working on reducing "And" from the beginning of my sentences.
3. Ask yourself two questions.
As public speaking is the numero uno fear, most people respect those who are simply willing to get up on stage in front of others. What people do want is information. People don't want to waste their time which is why meetings are so hated by employees. Work on having quality information that can really benefit them. Be sure to throw in some interesting stories from time to time and you've got yourself a winner.
Ask yourself two questions. First, "If I didn't know the information contained in my speech, would I find it of value?" If the answer is no, then it's back to the drawing board. Second, "What stories can I share that would make the speech interesting?"