If you are new to public speaking, nothing can trigger your fears like an audience member or members that are not onboard with your topic or message.
It is up to you to find out beforehand how your audience feels about your subject – all comes under the PREPARATION phase of your talk.
If, for example, you are speaking to the city council and they are only concerned about PARKING for the project you are there to discuss – It is worth your while beginning the talk with, “I know parking is a major issue for this project; however, today I will be speaking about the BENEFITS of the project.”
“I am happy to inform you the parking issues will be presented by Mary Smith on July 29th and she will happily address your concerns then.”
Overcoming fear is really KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE – preparing all anticipated questions in advance. Taking TIME to understand why someone might not be engaged in your talk. If an audience member is
crossing their arms and not making that happy face we all love to see,
You might consider asking them during the presentation if they have any major concerns about your topic.
This allows that person TO BE HEARD and it is up to YOU to acknowledge their concerns right then and there. Once they feel HEARD, the dynamics will change; they might end up being your greatest champion.
The fear of public speaking can be overcome by lots of preparation – really knowing your audiences and being agile enough will transform other people’s fears into a positive experience also.
It is never to late to learn more about your audience, turn everyone’s experience into a positive one by doing your homework. The FEAR will FADE when you establish a connection with even the most disinterested attendee.