The fear of a large audience is inherent in many people. Because of this, if more than two people are listening to a person, awkwardness and even fear can arise that prevent the message from being conveyed. This phenomenon is especially relevant for those whose profession is connected with communication with society, for example, PR managers or sales managers. However, the fear of a large audience can also harm other people in everyday situations, for example, at solemn events.
How to stop being socially awkward and anxious? Several ways will help you, if not become a good storyteller, then at least correctly convey your thoughts to others.
1. Free your head from extraneous thoughts
Often, people in front of several listeners fall into prostration and create a kind of world in their head, where they imagine the consequences of what was said. In addition, they can go into the past at such moments, negatively remembering similar situations. This puts a lot of pressure on self-confidence.
The next time you perform in front of a large audience, try to clear your head of extraneous thoughts about the past and the future. Understand that at this moment, there are no prerequisites or consequences; there is only you and the people with whom you communicate.
2. Forget about the spotlight effect
The spotlight effect is when you feel as if all the spotlights are shining on you, and all the attention is riveted on your personality. Simply put, it seems as if any of your actions will not go unnoticed, especially those that put you in a bad light. This effect sharpens all the senses, and a person sees something that is not really there.
When you do something in public, even if it’s embarrassing, know that it’s not as noticeable to other people as you imagine. So, for example, a short-term transition to falsetto from a regular bass, due to excitement, is sometimes only noticed by you because at this moment, only one person’s feelings are aggravated – the one who is standing on the stage.
3. Sharpen your social skills
The problem with most people who feel awkward in public is their underdeveloped social skills. They train little, and this leads just to that very awkwardness. It’s like driving a car: if you have little experience and get behind the wheel at best once a week, you are unlikely ever to become an experienced driver.
It’s the same here, only communication with other people instead of practice in driving. If you look at good speakers, you will understand that they spend almost all their free time communicating with others, using various techniques.
You need to use various communication methods to become an experienced speaker because the fear of speaking in public often arises from the fact that the brain anticipates a negative reaction and is on alert. If you have at least basic knowledge and experience in most ways of communication, communicating with several people and even speaking in front of the general public will not be a test for you.
4. Warm-up before the performance
Another common mistake is to throw yourself headlong into the pool immediately, without any preparation. Experienced speakers know that you first need to warm up before talking to masses of people. When it comes to public speaking, one of the best ways is to talk to a few strangers about broad topics. It is enough to talk about the purpose of the visit of a person, his plans, and even about the atmosphere of the place so that you feel better.
Such hardening will help eliminate the fear of speaking in front of an unfamiliar audience because you understand that once you can communicate with one unknown person, you can also with several.
5. Eliminate the effect of silence
Scientists have long discovered that the time of silence after awkwardness occurs is four seconds. This means that every time there is a pause longer than four seconds between two or more interlocutors, with each subsequent second, it becomes more awkward and harder to break. As a result, if you are performing in public and there is a pause, you may feel even more uncomfortable.
What to do in this case? Eliminate silence, at least with meaningless phrases. Research shows that, for a large audience, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about; the main thing is to fill in the gaps.
6. Realize that mistakes are important too
When we are in the spotlight at social events, subconsciously, we want everything to go perfectly. But the ideal, as you know, does not happen; every person makes mistakes, even the most experienced.
To stop being clumsy in social interaction, you must break yourself, making mistakes repeatedly, sometimes quite ridiculous. It would help if you were not afraid of this and the sarcastic smiles of the audience because, without this, you simply won’t be able to learn something new. If you make a mistake speaking in front of an audience, don’t stop; keep talking. So your oversight will be quickly forgotten, at least if it is insignificant. People will definitely remember your miscalculation if you stumble and stare awkwardly at the floor. So forget about the value judgment of others and carry on your dialogue without awkward stops.
7. Team up with someone more socially skilled
Creating a few close friendships with individuals who are, by nature, much more outgoing and gregarious than you are can be an effective strategy for expanding my social circle.
Accompany them to social events; they will help you to introduce yourself to new people and, as a result, give you a social “starting line of credit” with these folks. This is because, by association with the gregarious friend, you don’t have to start from scratch with them — you already have some implicit endorsement, if you will. Accompanying them at social events is a good idea.
“Another advantage is that they can handle small talk much more easily, which allows you to participate in the conversation whenever you have something substantial to say and to remain silent whenever you do not,”
After some time has passed, you will reach a point where you are comfortable talking to people on your own, without the assistance of your friend who is always talking.