We present everyday. All of us.
We talk about how the day went, what the neighbours are like, a film or TV episode you loved, a fab restaurant you know, and so on. It's endless. We are not afraid. We have something to say and an audience to say it to, but we know it is often only to one person or a few at most.
You're doing all this in a conversation, in other words. There you are, having your say (not at all nervous, and yet certainly in a spotlight of sorts) and the other people are listening, smiling and nodding. They're showing they are with you. They are showing they are paying attention and are interested. You do not feel alone. You finish your talking moment and we all move on.
And yet, tell the same story to a group of ten, fifty or a hundred or more, and it all feels completely different. But why? What has changed? After all, your message is the same, you know it well, and the audience is just as keen to hear you. You may even know all the audience members. Which can feel worse!
The answer is simple and will help you feel less nervous.
It is because it would be very odd for a group to behave in the same way as in a one-to-one chat. They are still paying attention. But the difference is that in larger groups individuals do not show you those vital reassuring visual and audible clues to demonstrate that they are with you and engaged. And so you now feel alone. Threatened. Fearful of judgement and rejection. This is normal, but nonetheless irrational. It's a merely a thought. Thoughts are not always facts. We can choose to ignore them.
(1) we accept that we have, our whole lives, always 'presented' to very, very small 'audiences' with the comfort of visible responses that happen in conversational settings.
(2) we accept that we have simply not had the experience of telling any kind of story without these comforting visible responses.
This doesn't make your message any less worth listening to. It doesn't mean the audience is 'against' you. They are simply doing what groups do. Remember, it would be very strange group indeed that would watch you, smiling all the time, nodding, and mumbling "oh really, uh huh, that's interesting, wow..."
Think about that. And keep thinking about it.
That is half the battle won in feeling that you cannot present to a group.
Of course, presentations are often longer and more complex in content than an anecdote about what happened on holiday, for example, but that's where planning and preparation comes in. However simplistic it may sound, to a large extent you are only going to talk in your own way about something you know well.
So it's about practice. Practising talking to people, as you are able to do daily, but without the norms of day-to-day interaction.
You know your story is the same. The way you talk is the same. And, with practice, you can even have a conversation with your audience in exactly the same way.
My one-day workshops provide a safe way to learn more about confident public speaking, and try these techniques for yourself. Then you can enjoy the opportunity to prepare for and focus on the real issue: how can I help my audience with what I have or what I know.
First sessions of my UK tour start in Glasgow this month with a special 50% discount
(click on dates for more info and for bookings)
Dates available soon for 2017 in the cities below. Message or email me if you would like to register your interest in taking part.