The Problem. Presenting an idea or telling a story to a group of people is not new, humans have been doing it since the caves – although of course back then rather than Power Point slides, wall paintings were more fashionable. However, despite millennials of practice, public speaking still scares us, so much that the Internet is full of tips on how to "lose" this fear. Tips that, in my opinion, are misleading as they wrongly presume that a good presenter is fearless when it comes to public speaking. Even Mark Twain said: “There are only two types of speakers in the world: the nervous and the liars.”
The Truth. I have been presenting around the world at conferences and seminars for over a decade. However, despite all these years of practice, and that public speaking is what I enjoy the most about my job, I still get nervous before presenting. To me, the worst are those few minutes before the start, when the adrenaline is so high that I can feel my heart beating on my head causing my hearing to fail, to the point that when I start speaking, I would swear that my voice sounds like a smurf with a terrible cold.
The Explanation. According to the triune brains theory, these symptoms are caused by the reptilian brain (the most primitive). When facing a vital threat, this brain floods our body with adrenaline, boosting our muscles to run away or fight and maximizing our chances to survive. It could seem a bit of a disproportionate reaction to public speaking, after all, nobody is going to kill us for having to listen to a boring presentation. However, it is not fair to underestimate the importance of surviving to a presentation from a social point of view, getting a positive reaction from our audience and their recognition. That is why we cannot eliminate the fear of public speaking. Instead, it needs to be understood, accepted and most important reinvested on motivating ourselves to spend the time and energy that a compelling presentation needs from us.
Next Steps. If you genuinely dislike the idea of public speaking, most likely you will never love it with passion. However, for sure you can become an excellent presenter and stand out from the crowd if you spend the right amount of time preparing your presentation. Use our method as a guideline to design your storyline, visuals, and content and, of course, rehearse so much that even your voice sounding like a smurf with a cold cannot distract you from what you want to say.
Key Take Away. Don't let your rather natural fear to public speaking block you, instead accept it as something perfectly reasonable and transform it into your ally. So nothing will ever stop you from telling the world your wonderful ideas.