Does terror of speaking in front of crowds threaten to paralyze your writing career?
Imagine a large stadium filled to capacity. The announcer introduces the main speaker. The audience claps and cheers. Adrenaline pulses in a flood through your veins. You approach the podium in slow-motion, while your legs beg to run away as fast as they can.
You arrive at the center of the stage, open the presentation slides on your electronic tablet, even as you pray you don’t make a fool of yourself. Your mouth opens, at the same time the heel of your hand brushes the edge of the tablet, knocking it on the ground. The clatter echoes across the hushed platform. Your fingers tremble as you lift the darkened screen. You scan the crowd in front of you; noticeable fidgeting causes a contagious rustle. You clear your throat, offer a half-smile, and scramble to remember what your notes said.
Once again, your lips part, but instead of a greeting, a guttural growl boomerangs through the microphone.
Is this a nightmare for anyone but me?
These days, whether writing non-fiction or novels, authors need to work twice as hard as public speakers to market their books.
But why do our minds threaten to sabotage us when we stand in front of smiling faces, in a sea of expectant people clamoring to hear the messages we’ve waited to share? Are we doomed to fail when panic replaces our passion? What goes on inside our brains?
Though I agree with most people who rank public speaking in their top five worst fears, there are tips I’ve learned to help reduce my anxiety.
1. Study your material intently.
2. Practice in front of a mirror.
3. Read the Bible. This simple answer saved me in the past, when anxiety medication, panic inhibiting techniques, and other methods failed to help me move past fear. I discovered that immersing myself in God’s Word calmed my frazzled nerves.
4. Follow sound advice. The Anxiety Coach offers practical instructions to settle emotions that threaten to keep you from spreading your message.
5. Wear comfortable clothing. Function along with your fashion.
6. Get serious about laughter. Humor relaxes emotions, body, mind, and spirit. Watch a funny program immediately before leaving to speak. Read a riotous book or article. Listen to a comedic CD or download on your way to the presentation.
7. Thirty minutes before speaking, drink water to hydrate your vocal chords, brain cells, and emotional sensors. Water is a miracle drug. (Thirty minutes should allow your body time to shed waste, so you can visit a restroom before taking the stage.)
8. Prior to walking onto your platform, breathe in slowly through your nose, count to ten, and release slowly through your mouth. Repeat twice, so you follow the process a minimum of three times.
9. Prayer walk to the front of your audience.
10. Don’t make a big deal out of flubs. Remember, most audiences won’t recognize mistakes, so carry on, or make light of it. Besides, mess-ups make us more human to observers.
Speaking is part of the modern writing model, but no need to worry. You can overcome and share with confidence.
How do you take courage in the face of public speaking fears in order to promote your books?