Glossophobia is the technical term for anyone that suffers an acute fear of public speaking. Symptoms include freezing up, a dry mouth, broken speech and physical shaking. It’s known, as well, as speech anxiety. The good news is that it can be easily ridded, the bad news is it’s estimated that 75% of people will experience this fear at some point in their lives.
Even the most seemingly confident and charismatic people can be terrified of public appearance. Take, for example, Harrison Ford. For a while everyone thought that 80s mega-star was just grumpy in all his interviews. It turns out that he has a debilitating case of speech anxiety.
It might make you feel better knowing that even Han Solo himself doesn’t get on with public speaking. Here are five ways to improve your public speaking charisma.
1. Focus on key concepts
This sounds like a super dry solution to a problem that requires some gravitas, but so many people slip up with public speaking trying to remember content. Learning the key concepts gives you less structure and more room to stretch your personality. Not only will you feel relaxed but you’ll come off that way too.
Remember, if you forget any information – you’re the only person that will notice.
2. Get to know the audience
Shake some hands, trade a few smiles – having some familiar faces in the crowd will open you up. It will also make the audience receptive and feel closer to you. Give a few shout-outs mid-speech along the lines of “like I was saying to Jeff…” if you feel really confident about it.
3. Cover your back with technology
If you feel like there’s too many eyes on you, make sure you have a presentation or some visual cue behind you. People love staring at screens so use it as a distraction tool, even if it doesn’t actually serve a purpose!
4. Start with a bang
Whether you drop a stinker of a joke or an anecdote, creating this relationship (even if it completely bombs) will set the down for an easy speech. Watch how stand-up comics transition from saying ‘hello’ to begin their set, it’s flawless!
5. Encourage questions
Not only will this take the spotlight off you but the spontaneity of audience participation forces you to break the mould of your notes and show off your natural charisma. Everyone has it, you just need the right environment to show it off!