Someone once said, “The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” Indeed, public speaking is so emotionally taxing that many people make all kinds of excuses to dodge it. Some say they don’t have the expertise yet while others say they’re not emotionally ready. To many, these excuses are a sign of weakness and an inability to deliver.
However, most people don’t realize that this is a natural response. In fact, it is expected, and in some cases, desired and encouraged. The can’t-do attitude towards public speaking is not always negative. If any, it’s a good asset waiting to be unraveled. You can channel the energy you use to dwell into your hesitation and self-doubt into something more positive. You can turn your can’t-do mindset into a presentation asset.
Focus on yourself, not on others.
This doesn’t mean you have to disregard your audience’s needs and preferences. It only means you shouldn’t worry too much about what others think of you. It’s okay to fret a little if you’re new to public speaking, but you have to remember that you don’t need to perfect it the first time. No matter how well you prepare and deliver your speech, there will always be room for improvement.
Look past the temptation to look smart. Instead of worrying about things that are out of your control, why not focus on honing your skills? Be open for growth, and embrace any challenge that might come your way. A lot of things can go wrong in a presentation, and sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. However, your attitude towards the situation will determine how it affects you.
Doubt yourself, but only for a minute.
There are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset encompasses static givens such as character, intelligence, and creative ability. These aspects can’t be changed in any meaningful way. A person with a dominant fixed mindset typically strives for success and avoids failure. A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, sees failure not as a drawback but as a springboard for improvement. Both types of mindsets can have a profound impact in your life.
For you to overcome stage fright, you need to let your growth mindset take over. Think of your speaking engagement as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and enhance your experience.
Find a motivation, not a reason to quit.
What’s good about having a growth mindset is that you can cultivate a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval. People with this kind of outlook view things from a different light. To a conventional person, for example, the words, “not yet,” ring with a negative connotation, like being stuck in a certain state. However, to a progressive mind, “not yet” suggests something to look forward to in the future.
If you think you’re not yet ready to give a talk, strive harder to become better at public speaking until you are fully prepared to take the stage. Looking at things in a better light will free you from presentation anxiety and make you more confident.
Don’t let a can’t-do mindset stop you from reaching your full potential. Develop a can-do attitude that will let you find and conquer greater possibilities.
Britton, Kathryn. “I Can’t Do It Yet.” Positive Psychology. June 18, 2014. positivepsychologynews.com/news/kathryn-britton/2014061829119
North, Marjorie Lee. “10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills.” Harvard Extension. n.d. www.extension.harvard.edu/professional-development/blog/10-tips-improving-your-public-speaking-skills
Peck, Sarah. “Why a Growth Mindset is Essential for Learning.” One Month. May 12, 2015. learn.onemonth.com/why-a-growth-mindset-is-essential-for-learning
Popova, Maria. “Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets that Shape Our Lives.” Brain Pickings. n.d. www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset
Roll, Oliver. “6 Steps to Overcoming Stage Fright and Giving a Presentation Everybody Listens to.” Entrepreneur. October 21, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/238442