Many people are comfortable speaking to a small group but when it comes to giving a talk to an audience of 100 or more they get very anxious. Why the fear of large groups and what can you do to over come it?
Does the thought of giving a speech to hundreds of people make you nervous? Here’s a simple trick for being comfortable when speaking to a large audience.
There are plenty of very capable speakers who turn pale when told the going to have to speak to a large audience. They’re very comfortable in front of small groups but are filled with dread when the number climbs to 40 or 50 or more. and don’t even mention 2 or 3 hundred.
So what’s the issue? It’s just a group of people only more of them.
The principle of public speaking remain the same no matter the size of the audience. So how do you overcome this irrational fear?
For a start don’t see the crowd as a seething 400 eyed multi headed monster just waiting to chew you up and spit you out.
No matter how big the group its just like a small audience made up of every day folk like you and me.
These people in the audience are the same people you talk to each day in ordinary conversations and they will respond in the same way.
The same passion and emotion you bring to speaking with another person, needs to be there when that person is gathered in a crowd no matter how big or small it is.
So how do you put that into action.
You have to actually speak to your audience as individuals, rather than as a group.
If the lights are up make eye contact with one person for a few seconds, then move on and connect with another individual, and so on.
If the lights are down, or the event is huge and you’re so far away that you can’t make out individual faces, then speak to each section of the audience.
Each person will think you’re talking directly to them. Now you’ll feel like, you’re speaking to a small group—the type of audience that never made you anxious in the first place. You’re having a conversation with a few people who share your interest in this topic.
Let’s face it You’re at your best when you’re speaking one-on-one, that is, when you’re conversational.
I’l be very frank here – the public speaking situation, particularly speaking to a large group of people is artificial, and we have to learn how to handle ourselves in that situation .
From caveman days in terms of evolution, we’re wired to speak to family, to a small group around a fire, or to a members of our tribe.
Facing hundreds of people, all of whom are staring at us waiting for us to entertain or inform them, can play to our primitive instincts like a hostile situation.
But it’s just something that in our modern professional lives, we have to learn to live with and master.
But remember Everyone you’re speaking to is wired the same way you are. They too like small, intimate chats that are basically a conversation around that campfire. They’re comfortable listening and responding to someone they feel close to.
So that’s why the best speakers make it feel like an almost one on one conversation – that gets back to eye contact – body language – warmth and passion in your voice and good story telling.
So when confronted by a big audience have that conversation with each small group at a time.
Whatever the numbers of attendees involved, remember it’s just a conversation
The Secrets of Successful Public Speaking ebook