Written by: Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
There was a time– not too long ago when the thought of speaking on a stage in public would have spiraled me into a full-blown panic attack. Today, as a TEDx speaker and confidence coach who works with individuals around the world to be more influential when speaking in front of an audience, I’ve learned how you can transform your fear into fuel and master the art of connection from the stage.
Most of us get nervous speaking– even our extrovert friends. Public speaking is the largest form of social anxiety and an estimated 75% of the world population suffers from the fear of public speaking. Therefore, the question is not whether we will be nervous speaking publicly, but rather how we can still connect to our audience while feeling our nerves.
What has helped me and my clients, is to remember that the point of speaking on a stage is not to tell your funniest joke or to highlight your story–it’s not about you at all. Whenever you have the opportunity to share your wisdom, learnings, or content with someone else, it is a privilege and when you present with this in mind it shifts the focus off of you and into helping those who are listening.
A phrase I teach my clients is, “Connection over Perfection”.
Here are a few ways to enhance your audience connection– even when you are nervous:
1. Take time to know your audience in advance.
One of the ways we can make an impact as a speaker is to fully understand the problems and concerns of those we are speaking to. If you are going to an in-person event, take time to chat with a few audience members before you walk onto the stage. Ask them what their biggest concerns are about your topic. Regardless of how nervous you are on stage, knowing someone is listening who needs your help reminds you that your speech isn’t about you. In this way, you are speaking to someone you can think of as a friend who is interested in and needs to hear what you have to say.
Understanding the concerns of our audience helps us better connect and takes the attention off of ourselves.
2. Be relatable.
When people listen to you speak, they are searching for a way to find themselves in your stories, your examples, and your points. Take time to be sure you are speaking about issues that relate to their lives. Many speakers lose the opportunity to connect because they try too hard to “impress” their audience with their accolades, use fancy words, or highlight their achievements. The opposite will take you farther. Let us hear a little about your failures, your mistakes, and what led you to your transformation, and show us how you can help us do the same.
3. Be ready to serve instead of being self-serving.
Having the opportunity to speak to others is a privilege and you want to treat it that way. When as a speaker your main objective is to serve, you will be more forthright with your information, and you will come across as understanding– not condescending and the audience will appreciate and connect with you. Speaking on stage is not about being self-serving or self-promotional. Ask yourself what transformation can you provide for your audience. What can you say to make them think, feel, or act differently? What problems can you help them solve? Be genuinely caring about helping others and your audience will care to listen to you.
These are just a few of the many tips I can teach you on how to speak with impact and influence in front of an audience. Join my new Club for exclusive coaching content with me and other experts to take your speaking confidence to another level.
And if you’ve read my article, I’d love to hear from you!
Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dara Connolly is the author of the new book Flip Your Fear and founder of PTC™– an award-winning confidence program. Dara was the ultimate juxtaposition– a Black-Belt martial artist and a lifelong timid wallflower filled with fear! She now helps individuals speak up with confidence and be more influential and impactful when speaking in front of an audience.
Dara is a TEDx speaker and nationally recognized expert in the field of confidence. She has been featured on FOX, CW, The Connect Show, The List Show, Dr. Laura, and other media outlets. Her latest book, Flip Your Fear is available on Amazon.