As great a speaker as he was, Lincoln felt shy for the few opening moments of his many speeches. His law partner, William Herndon, said, “At first he was very awkward, and it seemed a real labor to adjust himself to his surroundings. He struggled for a time under a feeling of apparent diffidence and sensitiveness, and these only added to his awkwardness. I have often seen and sympathized with Mr. Lincoln during these moments. When he began speaking, his voice was shrill, piping, and unpleasant. His manner, his attitude, his dark, yellow face, wrinkled and dry, his oddity of pose, his diffident movements—everything seemed to be against him, but only for a short time.”
If you find your experience in public speaking to be the same as Lincoln’s, here are four essential steps to take from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Birmingham:
Start with a strong and persistent desire — Arouse your enthusiasm and think what it can mean to you financially, socially and in terms of increased influence and leadership. Remember that upon the depth of your desire will depend the swiftness of your progress.
Prepare — You can’t feel confident unless you know what you are going to say.
Act confident — Professor William James said, “To feel brave, act as if we were brave, use all of our will to that end, and a courage fit will very likely replace the fit of fear.” You can conquer your fear of audiences by taking advantage of this psychological fact.
Practice — Fear is the result of a lack of confidence; and a lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do; and that is caused by a lack of experience. So get a record of successful experience behind you, and your fears will vanish.
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