How to overcome your fear of public speaking

Hate speaking in public? You’re not alone. Yet there is one clear piece of advice to overcome those nerves and deliver a pitch-perfect speech or presentation.

“You don't ever have a fear of speaking and presenting when you're thinking about your customer and thinking about serving them,” Dr John Demartini, founder of US-based human behaviour consultancy The Demartini Institute, tells My Business.

“You only do when you're thinking about you and what they think of you.”

According to Dr Demartini, this is a very common trend among people afraid of speaking in front of large groups, but a simple shift in focus does wonders for alleviating those nerves.

“I've been involved in training people in speaking. I've been speaking for 44 years. I've been training people. I've had people that [had] difficulty and had big fears of speaking, but once we identified who [will be] in the audience [they are fine],” he says.Businessman giving a speech to a large audience

“What I do is go through and I say ‘If you were in front of a kindergarten school, would you have any fears of speaking?’. ‘No.’ ‘First grade?’ ‘No.’ I rise up until we reach a point where they've been intimidated or humiliated in the past, find out what it is, find out what the traits of that person was that they were intimidated by and then own those traits.

“[When they] own them to the same degree, quantitatively and qualitatively, they have no fears presenting again.”

Dr Demartini says there is a science to helping people “come out of their shell”, which involves understanding how they tick. If you dig deep enough and be honest with yourself, you will be able to uncover what it is that you are ultimately afraid of when it comes to public speaking.

“Nobody is really an introvert or extrovert: they're only an introvert when they get outside their core competence, and they're quite extroverted when they're talking about what they love most,” he says.

As well as public speaking, Dr Demartini has plenty of advice for business owners on the adage of 'faking it til you make it'. He also answers the question of whether you should be afraid to say 'I don't know'.

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