What do firemen, supermodels and naked audiences have in common?

2016-05-31_12-56-44It’s the most common question I get asked by those who deal with a fear of public speaking:

“Should I picture my audience naked?”

If we were speaking to a room of supermodels and firemen fresh off the annual fundraising calendar, it would certainly be a worthwhile effort.

As a presenter, you have a lot to think about prior to your talk. Ensuring that the content and delivery of your presentation is strong and focused, engaging your audience, making sure the technology works, eliminating distractions, and managing nervousness are among some of the key concerns of any speaker. So the question is, when you have to deal with all that, should you make the extra effort to picture the audience naked too?

So I’ll be straight with you. Regardless of how good [or bad] your audience might look naked…. I’m sorry, but no. Sure, it would certainly make for a good story one day. And yes, it might be very successful at distracting you from your fear of public speaking. But it’s also likely that clarity, focus, and the ability to put together a coherent sentence might go out the window. So it’s with a heavy heart that I must break it to you, but…. you must give it up. Move on. Everyone can – and should – keep their clothes on. Even the firemen (sorry!).

Worry less about which tricks you need to use to fool yourself into being less nervous, and focus instead on giving a structured, engaging, and compelling presentation. Most of the time, your audience is filled with people just like you — nice, intelligent people who hope to get something valuable and worthwhile from the presentation. (Instead of picturing them naked, check out this short video on the secret weapon to managing your nerves before giving a presentation).

If you spend time tailoring the content of the presentation to your audience, creating a strong structure, keeping it focused and engaging, staying on point, telling appropriate stories and examples, being very clear on what action they need to take as a result of hearing your presentation, and practicing extensively, you’ll be able to face your [fully-clothed] audience with more and more confidence each time!

Or you can just create a business model where your target audience is comprised of supermodels and firemen. In which case….can I come and work for you?



p.s. The “should I picture my audience naked” question was one of the many that came up when I was being interviewed on CJAD 800 Montreal earlier this year. Listen to the radio segment — and all the questions asked about how to get over a fear of public speaking — right here.  

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