Public speaking is something lots of people struggle with. Being on a stage, especially in front of a large crowd, can be stressful for even the most seasoned and confident of speakers. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review made an interesting suggestion on how to combat that anxiety: Speak from the perspective that you’re helping the audience.
Typically we’re anxious when public speaking because there’s a spotlight on us and a lot of attention. When you frame the situation as you helping the crowd, you’re taking the focus away from yourself.
Showing kindness and generosity has been shown to calm the body’s fight-or-flight response. When you think about how the information you’re presenting to the audience is going to help them, it can help your body calm down and feel less under attack, ultimately helping to reduce some of that anxiety.
That process starts when you’re prepping for that speech. Instead of thinking first about what you’re going to say, think about who is going to be in the room and why they are there. Starting by thinking about your audience can help you focus on how to help them with what you plan to say.
When it does come time for that speech, think about that audience again right before you go on stage and what you’re going to do to help them. And while you’re talking, make eye contact with some of the specific audience members rather than the room as a whole. Eye contact can make seine members feel like they’re more a part of the conversation and can make you feel like you’re speaking more to individuals in the room that a mass of people.
Together, all that should help calm you down before you go on stage and make that speech or panel go a lot smoother.