Too soon, the presidential debates will be back. Those presenting themselves will be rated on every word, every facial expression, and every bit of body language. Yet, unless their actual behavior is extreme, in its being very good or very bad, most of it and how it was analyzed will be irrelevant to results. There are so many other factors which will account for victory or defeat. Those range from funding to social media.
However, plain-vanilla public speakers usually can't shrug off negative commentary about their performance. Fear of being panned actually can impair their presentation. You bet, self consciousness is the enemy of excellence in public speaking. Instead of being one with the audience (athletes call it "being in the zone") they are rattling around in all the dark corners of self.
How to downsize the preoccupation with bombing and then being hammered afterward? Here are tips:
Approach public speaking as an experiment. Successful speakers are always taking risks with how they present themselves. That's why they tend to talk from point outlines rather than set scripts. As they give their performance, they are continually observing the audience, then aligning their tone, content, facial gestures, and body language to the human beings out there. Some experiments will not work. End of that story.
Embrace pain as a teacher. From ancient times, the wise informed society that pain is the platform for growth. The toddler gets the hang of navigation by falling. When learning modifies behavior in big ways, the suffering conclude the pain might have been worth it.
Practice. Public speakers do get better with practice. They might never become as skilled as Bill Clinton but they can become a lot more effective than they would have been without investing time in rehearsing.
Study models. Get into the habit of observing other public speakers, ranging from the news anchor to the missionaries who come to the door chatting up their religion. Evaluate what tactics resonate and which cut the electric current.
My public speaking got a whole lot better after I delivered a talk on speechwriting in Manhattan and no one in the audience came up to me afterwards. I got it: The tone and content were too sophisticated for the audience. Yeah, I was showing off. Since then I have carefully researched each audience.