speaking infront

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Look who's talking

Self-consciousness is a strange phrase. It doesn’t just mean that “I am aware of myself”. What it really means is that “I am conscious of OTHER people being aware of me” The first stage of becoming a speaker is often a period of acute awareness that other people are looking.
Over the last ten years I’ve recorded what speakers think about when they consider the fears around public speaking such as;
“They want to see me fail, They will find me out, They will spot my weakness, They think I’m boring, They will see that I am nervous They will see I’m going sweaty, that I’m going red, that my hands are bigger than normal…”
In short we feel under scrutiny and we think that we are not up to the job
On one of my courses recently a participant said “I’ve read a lot about public speaking and nowhere did anyone say that public speaking is about being looked at and looking at the audience”
So I will say it now. In the first stages of speaking it’s a lot to do with being looked at.
The first part of the problem is that we are being looked by an audience who don’t show us many approval signs. They listen passively. They listen with blank faces.
The second part is that we are self-conscious and we think those blank faces are judging us.
Not a great mix.
On a recent course there was a woman who apparently knew everything about the audience and what they were thinking. They were judging her redness, the way she spoke, what she was talking about, what she was wearing, her accent and that she was really tired. But all the audience was doing was just sitting there with blank faces. Nothing more.
She was simply projecting her worries onto them.
So when we first face the fear of public speaking we tend to over-think. And it’s often the story of “me”. What are they thinking about me? And what do I think about me?
 Whereas in reality the audience is not probably thinking much about you. They are just listening or maybe thinking about their tax return, or their car repair bill, or their child's bedwetting or the person they'd like to sleep with. Or perhaps they are worried about what every one is thinking about them.
So in order to be calmer about public speaking we need to re-think what it really means to look. As Marcel Proust says
"The real voyages of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."