Animesh Gupta presented a 19-minute talk on how to conquer the fear of public speaking. Here are quick summary and highlight of the main points.
1. Self-Talk: The Essence of Conquering the Fear
You must understand how to communicate with yourself! Animesh demonstrates this by enacting two sides of his own self-talking to each other in the following dialogue:
Scared Side (SS): “I’m really anxious, I can’t speak in front of people”
Rational Side (RS): “What’s wrong? Of course, you can!”
SS: There are too many people and I’m nervous.
RS: You need to speak. You need to stop caring about “these people”… your career depends on this. Would you think so much if I put a gun to your parent’s head and threatened to shoot them if you didn’t speak?
SS: That’s silly! Of course, I would go up and speak without a doubt. That’s a life and death situation!
RS: Exactly. So you can speak! And this is a life and death situation as well because your career is at stake.
(He does this while maintaining a very scared/under-confident tone when enacting the scared side while keeping a very strong/confident tone with the rational side.)
In sum, you need to speak to yourself and answer your scared side’s questions and concerns, with the same confidence you’d display when you would be advising your best friend or spouse. Put yourself up for the challenge and tell yourself, “you can do it to save your parent’s lives; you can do it to save your career; you can do it to get what you deserve; etc.”
2.Re-evaluate how you think of Public Speaking itself
People who are uncomfortable always say, “oh shit, please no, I don’t want this,” etc. This is going to guarantee high anxiety! You must now use the self-talk discussed previously and start saying, “wait, why am I trying to escape this…no I WANT THIS!” And you need to pump up your fist and get ready for a challenge and tell yourself that you want this.
3. “What if I forget?”
There are two points to this.
- Just simply carry a small chit of paper with notes so you don’t forget your points. If you’re still unsure, then carry the entire speech! Worst case, just read everything out… even that will be a step ahead of freaking out and escaping the entire thing altogether.
- Just because you might forget and look stupid or whatever, doesn’t mean you give up and not try to learn/become better for the rest of your life. It’s like choosing to be comfortable in the short run and then messing up or living in anxiety choose forever! Not a very good deal, especially considering that the stakes keep getting bigger as time goes on, so it’s better to practice and fail now than later
4. Getting Uncomfortable with Too Many People in the Audience
Tell yourself again, “I want more people to look at me. I want this stage. I want to practice… even if I fail or look stupid. I want to do this for my long-term growth. I don’t want to live in anxiety all my life. This is a skill, and there’s no easy way out. I’ll have to learn the hard way. I’ll be proud of myself for taking up this challenge. Let there be more people!
5.“My English is not Fluent”
What if Modi thought the same thing? What about all the successful Europeans who speak in broken English all the time? People aren’t judging you on your English as much as they’re judging you on your confidence. Besides, that’s not a reason to escape short-term anxiety because you’ll be worse off in the long run – as mentioned in point 3(b) above.
(Speak in Hindi as much as is acceptable/practical, and don’t worry about making mistakes with English. If English is crucial for your situation, then spend time practicing and learning it. But don’t worry about it when you’re on stage.)
Make a decision: be comfortable in the short-run and keep escaping, or accept the challenge and free yourself from the anxiety in the long-run.
Watch the video to get more insight in how to conquer your fear of public speaking. Type “public speaking” on YouTube for the full video.