Does it take courage to speak in public? If courage is managing your fear, then you may need courage. If you intervened when seeing a single woman being abused for singing in her native language on a bus, would you need courage? There is a risk that the perpetrators will turn on you and make you their target. It’s your call as to whether you will take this risk to assist someone in need of help and support.
The risk of speaking in public is surely not in the same category. If you choke, the audience won’t abuse you. If you lose your place, the audience won’t call you names. They will just wait patiently for you to recover.
The real action will be in your mind, not theirs. You might come up with a worst case scenario with no supporting evidence. The worst case scenario might make you feel very uncomfortable. Just remember all this is happening in your imagination, not in reality.
Try ignoring the thoughts in your own mind and get on with the presentation. They might think the pause is part of your presentation. It is for many speakers.
I remember one occasion when I was speaking to a large audience when the CEO entered the room. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to acknowledge his presence. I said something like ‘ we are very fortunate this morning to have someone join us who as done so much…….’ Actually I was stalling as I had forgotten his name. I paused and then kept going ‘someone whose input over many years…..’ I asked my memory to keep looking while I stalled, believing that it would come.
It did. I tried to remain calm, knowing that my memory doesn’t like pressure.
I then said ‘Please welcome……….. this morning’. I don’t think anyone knew that I had forgotten his name.
So you don’t need courage. You need patience and a sense of calm. Rehearse. Have brief notes as a backup. Use powerpoint for details that you are likely to forget. Breathe deeply. Trust your memory if you have rehearsed. Trust your notes if you haven’t. Some of the world’s best speakers use notes.
You will need courage to intervene to support a person being badly treated on a bus. You don’t need courage to speak in public.
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