As a magician, I have been making things disappear for a very long time, but the hardest thing for me to vanish was my fear of speaking or performing for large groups.
I was absolutely terrified as a young man to stand up in front of a large group of people and speak or present. It was especially terrifying if that group of people happened to be my peers or fellow magicians. I know as an insurance agent you are often asked to speak in less than ideal circumstances to less than ideal groups. And you may be asked to present on products that might not be your favorite option.
Well, I have been there and I can help you out because I have been put in this position many many times. Imagine standing in front of a group of magicians to present a magic trick and knowing that each and everyone of them knows your trick, knows about misdirection, knows everything you are about to do. I overcame that fear and I have three tricks that you can do to make your next public speaking engagement a little easier.
1. Do your pre-sets and double check them!
Before a magician walks on stage he does something called pre-sets it may sound complicated or mysterious but it’s not. A good magician knows exactly what tricks he is going to do and in what order he is going to do them he has also carefully rehearsed everything he is going to say.
So, if you were sitting backstage before this guy goes on you would see him double checking every prop to make sure it is ready to go. Possibly rehearsing choreographed movements and practicing key moments of speech in his presentation.
For me, this is incredibly relaxing and it helps to fade away any jitters I might have going into my presentation. Knowing that everything has been checked and double checked is very reassuring.
2. Talk to people not to the group.
If the sheer volume of people intimidates you, talk to a single person in the group.
A little bit of stagecraft here comes in handy pick a person towards the back as far back as you can see. Make eye contact and talk to that specific person deliver that thought or idea to them and then switch always talking to a person.
By picking someone towards the back and switching frequently you will cause the illusion of speaking to the entire audience. You will also take the edge off the fear of speaking to an entire group because in your internal dialogue you are speaking to one person at a time.
3. Your internal dialogue needs to be one of love.
It is not a big secret but it is a secret that is often overlooked and underestimated what you are thinking has a real and measurable impact on the real world. Especially when it comes to body language, and while you might skate by in one-on-one communications, large groups pick up on negative body language quickly.
- Tell yourself or remind yourself that you love your audience and your audience loves you. And believe it, because, if you come across with a feeling of love towards your audience they will sense it and love you back. It is so much easier to talk to a group that wants you to be there and this little trick can turn a hostile or intimidating group into a friendly one very quickly.
- Make sure your body language mirrors your internal dialogue. Stand comfortably feet spread apart arms comfortable but open. You can have all the best intentions in the world but if you are looking at your feet with your arms crossed you are not sending the message that you want.
It is my greatest wish that you might have learned or been reminded of something from these few small tips. My last bit of advice might actually be one of magic’s greatest secrets. Practice, Practice, Practice and whatever your profession is remember, that if it was easy everyone would do it.