I’ve had the opportunity to speak in front of large crowds on more than one occasion, and whether I’m talking business tips, seminars, or otherwise there is always an individual either before a speech or after who asks me about how I can get up in front of that many people and just talk normally. The fear that creeps into their voice at the thought of having that many people focusing on you is tangible. I have found that this stage fright can affect individuals from a wide range of speaking points, whether class projects, college talks, seminars or otherwise. So I figured this would be a good topic on which to place a blog post here, and share some of the tips that have assisted me over time.
Firstly, everyone is nervous speaking in front of a large crowd, even the ones who seem calm and collected. There’s something about that many individuals giving you their attention, and you being responsible for filling that void their silence provides that can be daunting. What if you mess up? What if someone calls you out on an inaccuracy? There seems to be a lot to be nervous about. But really, the fear is mostly unfounded. Your brain gets nervous and starts filling in that fear with random hypotheticals. Once you embrace that nervousness, acknowledge it and accept that it’s there, you can step over the threshold into doing something about it.
There are many individuals who will give you the talk about picturing people in their underwear or otherwise, but in my personal experience this isn’t really a plausible tactic. In truth, you often can’t see the people you’re worried about. On larger stages with direct lighting, the whole audience becomes kind of a grey-black blur of shadows. The first few rows may be visible, but otherwise it’s hard to make anyone out. For more direct visibility, such as boardroom presentations or otherwise, this may not be much of a consolation, but there are tricks to dealing with that too. My good friend and business partner Mike, who only today invested in one of the biggest plumbing companies in Australia, www.caringbahplumbers.com.au has no issues with this, he’s a natural.