Mastering Public Speaking: Five key tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking

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Spence M. Finlayson is an international conference speaker and the founder and CEO of Master Motivator Spence Finlayson Speakers Academy. He is a much sought after motivational speaker and has spoken in over 26 foreign countries with 30 years experience. He can be reached at 242-677-0418 or by email at phoenixinstitute@gmail.com

By Spence M. Finlayson

I am an international conference speaker, corporate trainer, author and talk show host, with over 5,000 speeches and presentations in over 26 countries over a 30-year career. Some people suggest that I am a naturally gifted speaker. This is true, but I spent countless hours working on my craft over many years to become a much sought after motivational speaker.

According to the internet, the top ten fears people have are as follows:

1. Fear of flying
2. Fear of public speaking
3. Fear of heights
4. Fear of intimacy
5. Fear of failure
6. Fear of success
7. Fear of the dark
8. Fear of rejection
9. Fear of death
10. Fear of God

Marina Volandes’ poem:

“Many fear public speaking, even more than death itself,
But there is nothing to fear
Speaking is one way to share the wisdom that lives within us and silence is one way to welcome regret.
Too often we pass on from this life with regrets
Speak your truth, share your wisdom
The world is waiting for it!!”

Here are the five tips:

1. Use body language to your advantage.
Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy found that simply holding assertive postures increases testosterone while reducing the stress hormone, raising confidence and reduce anxiety. As a motivational speaker, I move around the room a lot making sure to give everyone in my sight, eye contact.

2. Master your intro
Make it a priority to become very competent at the very beginning of your presentation. Use a powerful ice-breaker that will set the tone for everything that follows and also to get your audience in the right frame of mind to listen to you. I recall speaking at a major conference in the Cayman Islands at the Radisson, with over 1,000 people in attendance, when I did my ice breaker and it was very well received. I was on my way to delivering a memorable motivational speech.

3. Turn you butterflies into positive energy
After 30-plus years of professional speaking, I still get butterflies before I speak but I am able to successfully turn them into positive energy. You see my butterflies send an important message to my brain that my upcoming presentation is very vital and meaningful. Let your enthusiasm shine through as you deliver your speech.

4. Take your time
Sometimes, it’s very tempting to rush through your presentation and get it over with when you are very anxious. But it’s a trap. If you rush through your presentation, your audience will be shortchanged, they will not be able to clearly understand you and you will in effect lose them. The first thing that I need to know when I am booked to make a speech is how much time do I have. From there I can prepare my speech accordingly. For me it is better to have your audience wanting more than for them to mentally be saying, “Please stop! Enough!” So I take my time making sure that I cover all the essential points of my presentation.

5. Know your material
I remember about 33 years ago, when I was starting out as a Yellow Pages advertising sales consultant with the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, in my native country, The Bahamas, I was afraid to go to my first client because I did not think that I was very knowledgeable about the business. It was so much stuff to remember and I feared that I would make a few mistakes. So, if you are not very conversant with your subject matter, you will not deliver a great speech. I commend you to study your material, become very familiar with it and you will overcome the fear of speaking publicly.

About six months ago, I created the Master Motivator Spence Finlayson Speakers Academy in Nassau, to develop speakers, with the mission being to guide and support speakers so they feel confident and masterful at each presentation.

The Bible says, “Your gifts shall make room for you and bring you into the presence of great men and women.” So far, my gift to speak has certainly done that for me.

Remember that “if you can speak, you can influence, if you can influence, you can change lives”.

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