This podcast is part of the Ask Ivan series.
Carla asked “How do you get over the fear of talking in front of groups of people?”
Many BNI members get nervous about giving their 10-minute presentations. Dr. Misner still gets nervous before going onstage. Here are a few suggestions for handling your fear of public speaking.
- It’s okay to be nervous. A little nervousness can improve your performance.
- Prepare as much as possible. Keep notes with you to make sure you cover all your main points. (Don’t read them, though.)
- Get creative. Try giving a test rather than a speech.
- Let your passion show. Share what you love about you do.
- Don’t fill your slides with words. Read Presentation Zen to learn how and why to do this.
- Tell stories. A great story is a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels someone to take action that transforms them in some way.
- Repeat yourself. Verbal repetition reinforces your message.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 433 –
This is part of our Ask Ivan series. If you have a question for Ivan, you can email him at this address: [email protected]
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hi, Ivan. How are you and where are you?[
I am in Austin, Texas this week and I am going to be leaving real soon for a fundraiser for the BNI Foundation. You know, the BNI Foundation does a lot of good work all over the world. There is a program called Business Voices and we are doing a fundraiser on Lake Austin for the Foundation today.
Oh that sounds nice.
It is. For anyone that wants more information on Business Voices, go to our website at bnifoundation.org.
Okay, so what is this that you are going to teach us today about fear of speaking?
Well, we had someone who sent me a great question and was asking about talking in front of groups and her name is Carla. Carla asked how do you get over the fear of talking in front of groups of people? She is obviously a BNI member and she was really talking about the longer presentation, which is what really makes people nervous. A lot of people get nervous just doing the 60 second presentation or the weekly short presentation, but it is the long one that really tends to scare a lot of people. That’s what Carla was talking about with this.
So I have a few suggestions for people. One is don’t assume that someone who does a lot of speaking doesn’t sometimes get nervous. I am talking about myself. I get nervous speaking and I do at least 75 to 100 one to two hour keynote speeches a year.
Wow – that is a lot.
It is a fair amount. I still get nervous before I go on. It’s okay. It’s okay to get nervous. I have been doing this for many, many years. I find that a little bit of nervousness is a good thing because it gets the adrenaline going. You just don’t want the nervousness to stifle you completely, to stop you from doing what you want to do because speaking to a larger group of people, or speaking longer at a BNI meeting is so important to educate people about your products or services. You don’t want it to stop you from doing what you need to do.
I still get nervous. I find sometimes that when I am being introduced- I will be in the back of the room and when they are doing the introduction, and sometimes, Priscilla, I will be thinking, uh oh, I am not nervous. I find that when I am not nervous, my adrenaline is not pumping. When I go up, I am too laid back and don’t really deliver.
So I will be standing in the back. One time, I remember I was standing in the back thinking, I am not nervous, and when I am not nervous, I actually don’t have that edge. When I don’t have that edge, I don’t do a good job. If I don’t do a good job- I have flown here for this region. They are expecting me to come out and knock it out of the park. If I don’t- oh wait, I am nervous. It’s okay. It’s good.
What I am saying is embrace a certain amount of nervousness. It is okay to be a little nervous, but you just can’t have it completely stop you from doing what you need to do. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Let me ask you a question. Do you ever have trouble finding the right words? Because I know that happens to me a lot. That makes me very nervous.
Oh sure. That happens a lot. So I try to prepare as much as possible. I have a number of techniques that I want to talk about on doing good presentations and one of them is preparation. You have to prepare before you go on. I am a real believer in planning my spontaneity.
People always laugh at that, but it is true. I try to plan my spontaneity because I find that I don’t do real well just winging it. To this day, I may do a speech a gazillion times, but I still take notes up to make sure that I hit upon all of the key points. But yeah, I do have a hard time coming up with a word or a phrase or a concept, so having notes to glance down on are, I think, really important.
So preparation- you and I didn’t talk about what I was going to cover, but that is actually one of the very first things. Prepare. Go up with some notes. Don’t read. Don’t read your notes. Not a good idea because most people can’t read it as though they were talking. You know, they read their notes like this, like it is one sentence at a time. You know, you really have to be good at reading teleprompters or reading notes if you want it to sound like you are doing a presentation. So don’t just read them, but have some that you can refer to.
Now, we are talking about for the most part going to a BNI meeting. I know I talked about this briefly in a previous podcast, but it is worth mentioning again. I had an accountant who was completely petrified, she was completely frozen about doing speeches in front of people. She even said, “If I have to do a ten minute talk, I quit.” The leadership team person was like you are next. You are up in just a few weeks and the accountant was like, “Then I quit. If I have to speak, I am out.”
I remember having a conversation with her and saying, “Don’t quit. You don’t have to quit over this. Don’t do a speech. Give a test.”
She said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “Rather than stand up and speak, give a test for people. Just ask true or false questions. Ten questions about tax law and see how they respond. Read the question, ask how many say true and how many say false. Then give the answer. That is it. Don’t do any more.”
She said, “I can do that.”
Priscilla, it was hysterical. You know, the first two or three questions, she read the question, “According to the tax law of 1986, is it true or false… ” She would read it and they would vote it true or false. But by the third or fourth question, people were like, “Oh my gosh, I am going to jail. I have missed every question.”
People started laughing and she got engaged. Then she completely went off script and was relaxed and was just talking about what she is passionate about. It’s hard to believe that someone would be passionate about tax law, but she was and it showed.
That’s part of becoming a good speaker- letting your passion show on the thing that you are excited about. That’s another one of the points. You definitely want to do that and she did a great job. She ended up going over time. She didn’t think she would take the whole ten minutes but they had to pull her down at ten or eleven minutes because she, you know, was going over time.
Get creative. You know, do something like a test rather than a speech. if you are going to use PowerPoint, PowerPoints really get abused when there is too much text in PowerPoints. If you are going to do a PowerPoint thing, there is a book I recommend called Presentation Zen. Fantastic book that talks about how your presentations really need to be photographs, not verbage.
So if you are talking about a topic, you want to show a photo of the topic, not put a lot of text up on the screen. For example, the first time I used this was with a book I wrote called the 29% Solution. The book is based on a story I wrote called Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and 6 Degrees of Separation.
The first slide originally said, “What do Santa Clause, Easter Bunny and 6 Degrees of Separation all have in common?” That was the text. I realized after reading this book that I was doing it all completely wrong. Instead, I had three photos. I changed it to three photos: a photo of Santa, a photo of the Easter Bunny and a photo that reflected 6 Degrees of Separation. I just showed the three photos. What do these three things have in common? Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and 6 Degrees of Separation?
The answer, by the way, is they are all urban legends or myths.
Thank you. I was wondering.
You’re welcome. So great book, Presentation Zen.
A couple of other points: If you are speaking, storytelling. Very powerful. Very powerful. Tell stories. Here are the four secrets to telling a good story: A great story is a fact, wrapped in an emotion, that compels someone to take action. It transforms them in some way. That’s what makes a great story. A fact, wrapped in an emotion, that compels someone to take action, that transforms them in some way.
So if you have a story, don’t just tell a joke. A joke is a a fact, or something seemingly factual, wrapped in an emotion. That is a joke. It doesn’t compel someone to take action. It doesn’t transform them in some way. It’s not a great story. So that is what makes a great story.
When you tell a great story, here is another really important point: relive the story. Don’t retell the story. Relive the story.
There are so many other things that I could talk about. You want to do a story that is really sticky, that really keeps people’s attention. Emotions help do that. The sound of your voice helps do that. Visual elements, verbal repetition, powerful pneumonics help to give a great presentation. By pneumonics, I love verbal repetitions when I am doing a keynote presentation or particularly when I am trying to motivate people.
I think one of my classics, one of my absolute best, you can find in Givers Gain. You have probably heard me talk about this before, Priscilla. It is one of my favorites. It is the end of Givers Gain. If all the people in an organization row in the same direction, that organization could dominate in any industry, in any market, against any competition at any time. BNI dominates this industry in almost every market against all the competition for almost a decade now. It has happened because of a shared vision and a shared implementation of that vision.
Those are examples of verbal repetitions and a use of pneumonics in a way that gets people to remember what you are saying and it is also very motivational. It is a great tool or technique to use when you are speaking.
Yeah. That reminds me of when you are going to church and there is a great pastor giving a sermon, and he repeats and uses a lot of those tricks.
Absolutely. It is a tried and true technique. You know, I studied speech for many, many years in high school and college and it was one of the things that really resonated with me.
Look, we are about out of time. Preparation, everyone. Prepare. Don’t wing it. Don’t just stand up and wing it. If you are doing a PowerPoint, have visuals. Don’t give a lot of text. Make sure to tell good stories- a fact, wrapped in an emotion that compels people to take action, transforms them. Relive a story. Don’t retell it. Make it sticky. Visual elements, verbal repetitions, emotions, the sound of your voice. All of these things are really, really important.
And don’t worry about being nervous. It’s okay. I get nervous, too, but you can work through it. Keep your eye on the ball. The goal is to teach people about what you do and to get them excited about who you are and how you do it.
So now, go do a great presentation next week, Priscilla.
Okay, I plan to. Thank you, Ivan.
If anyone has any other ideas- by the way, that was a great question. Thank you very much, Carla. If anyone has any other ideas that they would like to add, please put it up here on BNIpodcast.com. Thanks.
Okay, great. Thank you. I think that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.