I’ve never had to do it, but I would imagine that giving a speech before a million people is rather easier than giving one before a hundred. The great advantage of the former is that you’re a long way, distance-wise, from your audience. You’re either standing at the top of huge stone steps, or you’re on a whacking great podium with all those people spread out below you.
I would think it’s all you can do to make out faces, let alone deal with hecklers. Presidents, Prime Ministers and other heads of state can stand up there and talk absolute drivel if they so choose, (they frequently do!), without any real fear of being verbally attacked by anyone.
Not so the poor chap who has to give a talk in front of fifty colleagues. He probably won’t even have a podium to stand on. He’ll be flat on the floor like the rest of them. Panic and anxiety attacks and disorders can affect anyone in those situations.
And there’s always one, isn’t there? There’s always one smarty-pants who’s out to simply cause trouble, who thinks he’s a comedian or who’s convinced he knows a lot more than you do about the subject of which you’re speaking.
Give me the million person audience every time!
With the small audience, you know you’re in trouble when some prematurely bald little character with thick glasses sticks up his hand and starts his sentence with; “But surely.. “
Right. To begin with, never ever agree to speak on something about which you only have a smattering of knowledge. You must know your subject inside out, backwards, forwards and sideways. If you don’t, you’re sitting up and begging for trouble. Even if the boss tells you to give a talk, if you don’t feel qualified enough, tell him.
Then again, it does depend on the time frame. If he wants the talk given in six months, then you have all that time to prepare, but if he expects it the next day, and you’re unsure, then for goodness sake, say so.
I think most people are nervous about speaking in public. Yes, there are those with ice water in their veins who simply aren’t affected by the experience, but the majority of us would rather not, thank you.
But if you’re really nervous, really frightened at the prospect, then rehearse. Now I’m presuming that you’re an expert on the subject. An expert in the laboratory, say. A true master or mistress of the subject in question, but essentially you’re a back room girl or boy.
Suddenly, you’re being thrust into the limelight.
The trick is to have the anxiety attack before the event. Sit down quietly and imagine yourself standing up in front of everyone. You’ll feel your stomach start to churn, you may start to sweat. That’s fine. Just lean into it. What’s the worst that can possibly happen?