No matter how old we may become, at times we are kicked out of our comfort zone. As senior citizens, we have great wisdom in many areas and may be asked to share that knowledge with various groups of people. But some of us are terrified of speaking in public so we decline and miss great opportunities to share our expertise with others.

Public speakingSpeaking in Public.  Speaking to a large group of people. Speaking to a room full of your peers. There is an old adage that says some people fear public speaking more than death.

Speaking in public is my passion.  Motivating and inspiring people to do more, be more, laugh more, love more, and live better brings the greatest rewards.  Many people have a lot to share but are afraid to do it in a public forum. Three things that I have learned about public speaking come from experience — not a textbook or a public speaking course.  Master these three and your fears will be short lived.

One of the most important things you must learn is what you do in the first six seconds.

If you walk up to the microphone and start to speak before you get there, it shows your nervousness. First impressions are huge and you want to give a good one. So, the first six seconds – don’t say a word. Pick up your microphone, look at your audience and smile. In these first six seconds, your audience is analyzing you. They won’t hear what you say until they have had a good look at you. 

The Second and biggest secret to public speaking success is how much you care

Of course, it is necessary to present yourself well in your appearance but, and this is a very big BUT, it is not what you wear or even necessarily what you say that is the most important. You can enunciate perfectly. You can be the greatest orator. You can articulate clearly. You can be dressed like a million bucks.   However, if what you share comes from a cold place, your audience will perceive it and inevitably tune you out – almost immediately. As you become conscious of this, it makes you even more nervous.

Say this out loud and then think about it…. “People don’t care how much you know – until they know how much you care.”  

That bears repeating. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. It does not matter what you are speaking about, do it with passion. You cannot find passion in a book. You cannot find passion in any store. No website sells passion. Your passion comes from within and people will recognize it very quickly.

Do it with passion

I have been in sales most of my life but I have never sold anything I am not passionate about. I am a health coach and a lot of people who make an appointment with me are in a desperate place. They are looking for answers. They need help.

You need to be passionate about what you are speaking about and people will listen. When you are speaking in public, you are selling yourself first, your product second.

Speaking to a group is like giving a gift to someone. When you do it from a place of love and compassion, you are not doing it because you have to, you are doing it because you want to. This is key to being a success.

How can being warm and fuzzy help you when you speak in public? It does not matter what you are talking about. It does not matter what you are selling. If you believe in what you are doing, if you are passionate about your subject, your audience will notice and reciprocate – making you very comfortable and relaxed.

When you are preparing your speech, think about what it really means to you. Why is it important to you? How can your knowledge benefit others? Think of what your audience needs and how you can give it to them. They will recognize your motive and you will be successful and probably be asked to share again.

Number 3 – and so important

NEVER, EVER…..I repeat NEVER, EVER apologize. When you apologize you are not showing confidence. Some people feel they need to apologize by saying, “Please bear with me as this is the first time I am speaking in public.” Or they may say, “I’m sorry, but I am a bit nervous.” Or…I haven’t been feeling great or any number of things you could apologize for. NEVER do it. It shows weakness and that you are not fully prepared. You do NOT want people feeling sorry for you – you want them to respect your opinion about the subject you are sharing.

Stand tall, look at everyone in the room, don’t rush, and realize that you are the authority – people are there to listen to what YOU have to say.

The next time you are asked to share at the place you volunteer, your travel agency to promote places you have visited, your local church, women’s/men’s groups, or any number of other places – say “YES, I would love to share with your group!”

Who knows….someone may come to you and ask how you overcame your fears and you can share it with boldness!