“If you’re going to a funeral, you’re better off being in the casket than giving the eulogy.”
Jerry Seinfeld says this at the beginning of one of his episodes from the 90’s, but he shares this because for the average person, they have a greater fear of public speaking than they do death. And I’m not surprised, with all of the executives and business owners that we coach and train on executive presence and delivering presentations. We hear this all the time, this fear of getting up in front of a group of people. Yet the reality is that you as a corporate executive, as a corporate leader especially, you will be, if you haven’t already been doing so, responsible for delivering presentations in front of groups of people.
That group may be one or two people, or it could be several – but that is part of your role, whether it feels formal, such as delivering it at an all-employee meeting or at a national sales conference, or if it feels informal just at a weekly team meeting, there is a time that you will be presenting information to a group of people – which is technically public speaking. So one of the big fears that we hear most often, or the reasons behind having a fear of public speaking, is just having the confidence, right? Having the confidence to stand in front of a group of people and share your thoughts, share your ideas, your data, your information.
Just feeling like, “Hey, am I doing a good job? Am I showcasing myself in the best way possible?” And so I want to share with you one tip, one very specific, yet extremely impactful tip that will help bolster this confidence and get you a bit over this kind of hump, if you will, of the fear of public speaking, and really create an impact with the presentations that you do. And this one tip is really just one word, and that word is rehearsal.
Now for many of you, you’re sitting here going, “I do not want to rehearse. This is crazy, Colleen. I’m not a public speaker, a formal speaker.” For me, I have to be on stage, that’s part of my business. So you might be thinking, “Rehearsal? I don’t need to do that. I’m giving presentations in our boardroom or in front of these small groups.” Well I hate to break it to you, but rehearsal is the key. Now I get it, I was in sales for 15-plus years, and I remember there was a conversation with senior leaders or a trainer who came in and told us, “Hey, you guys are spending more time on preparing the actual slide presentation, the deck, the PowerPoint deck, you’re spending so much time on these slides, yet you walk in to deliver the information on the slides, and you’ve never gone through it. You’ve spent zero time on the actual presentation.”
And there was this encouragement, this kind of coaching or feedback to actually rehearse. And I remember feeling kind of silly about this, like this is so strange. Yet, when I was selected to be one of the speakers at our company’s national sales conference, I was given a 15-minute window of time. And I knew I was going to be on the main stage in front of my peers, in front of our senior leaders, President, and CEO who would be there. So I scripted and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. I mean, I rehearsed this 15-minute presentation so many times – but it allowed so that once I was on stage, many (not all, but many) of the fears that I had, a lot of the nerves that I had, really were able to kind of dissipate because I had put in so much of that rehearsal.
So I know not every single time that you’re going to deliver a presentation are you going to put in hours, days, or weeks worth of rehearsal. No. But for the ones that really do matter, where you want to either showcase your level of professionalism or skillset, you know you’ve got a particular audience that this is going to really make a difference, the absolute key is going to be the rehearsal. And the more you rehearse, the greater your confidence will build and the less fear you will have about public speaking.
If you’re interested in speaking to me more about what that looks like, this is what we do! We are working with executives to really uplevel their professionalism, their communication, and executive presence overall, to create an impact for themselves and for the audience that they’re delivering the message to. Again, whether that’s one person in the room or a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people. Comment below and let me know how you work on overcoming your fear of public speaking. Or share with us, what is that fear? Is it not confidence, is it something that we haven’t heard before?