5 Ways to Speak Up (Without a Freakout): An Interview with Matt Abrahams

Do you have anxiety about public speaking? You can overcome the situation with tips from this interview between Matt Abrahams and Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker.

Lisa B. Marshall
6-minute read
Episode #317

Think of the Present and Have a Conversation

Matt: Sure. They’re all so important, but first I recommend a focus on the present. If you're concerned about future outcomes, you’re more likely to be nervous, putting too much pressure on yourself. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the audience: What do they need to learn from me right now? Why is it important?

Lisa: So, what you’re saying is, don’t focus on yourself and the future outcome, focus on the value you are offering at this moment. By focusing on others, your concern shifts. If you’re giving a presentation to help the company, or help the listeners, you’re concerned about them, not yourself.

Matt: Right. So you’re probably going to be more comfortable. And try to think of it as a conversation with the listeners, as well. Thinking about the present only, and reframing the presentation as a conversation, really help the speaker, and are the next two of my main points. The last is visualization.

Visualize a Great Day

Lisa: Yes, I’d really like to hear more about that. I remember watching the Brady Bunch as a kid. In one episode, Marsha had to speak before a group and she was so nervous! Her father (or someone, I forget who) told her to imagine her audience in their underwear! Well, in TV-land that worked, and it was very funny, but it’s never worked for me!

Matt: Well, no, I wouldn’t recommend that! No, when I say visualization, I mean something very different. You want to visualize the whole day going well, not just the speech. Focusing on the speech can make you more nervous. Focus on everything around the speech, before and after, and the positive reaction of the listeners.

Lisa: Can you give us an example?

Matt: Sure! Imagine getting up the day of the presentation, feeling great, dressing well, the commute to the office is smooth, maybe you get a compliment from a stranger. You get there, everyone is ready and excited to hear what you have to say. You feel confident that you’re providing something valuable to the listeners, and their reaction shows it: they’re attentive, responsive, they ask great questions, and they thank you afterwards. You feel accomplished, and later you have a great dinner with a special friend to celebrate. What a great day!

Lisa: That’s way better than imagining people in their underwear!

Matt: No, don’t do that!

Lisa: And when is the best time to do this?

Matt: I recommend you start visualizing several days ahead, once or twice a day. There are so many other great techniques to help you ‘reprogram’ your brain to feel confident with public speaking, but these should really get people started.

Lisa: Thanks so much, Matt, I’m sure you’ve helped so many people! If anyone would like to find out more of Matt’s tips, pick up his book, Speaking Up Without Freaking Out by Matt Abrahams. Thanks again, Matt!

Matt: My pleasure.

Lisa: This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.