Home » Think Faster, Speak Smarter … How can BNI help us to conquer our natural fear of public speaking?

Think Faster, Speak Smarter … How can BNI help us to conquer our natural fear of public speaking?

by Richard Foulkes

You’ve probably heard that public speaking is feared more than death itself. It sounds crazy, but that’s what people say. Is there any truth to this? Certainly, most people rank fear of public speaking as “their number one fear– 75% according to the US National Institute of Mental Health. Much of that stems from a fear of rejection. Even if we do not consciously admit it, most of us are afraid that we will be rejected by others.

In BNI, we stand up to speak so often, most of us overcome this fear overtime, in fact many come to love the sound of their own voices!

This doesn’t mean that we still don’t get a slight thrill of nervous anticipation before we stand up. This is a good thing, it gives us an energy, focus and an edge.

What about outside the comfort of BNI? Here are some tips to lessen the fear or just to improve your impact.


We aren’t the best judge of our own performance. Others see us differently to how we do. Only we likely know how nervous we are, what we forgot to say or how unprepared we are.

If you saw a video of yourself, you would look more polished and confident than you think you are.

Never admit to being nervous, or it being your first time. If you don’t say it, it’s likely the Audience would never know, however if you do mention in thinking it will gain you sympathy, they may judge you for being inexperienced. In the same way, don’t point out your own mistakes unless they are glaringly obvious and need correction.

Perfection is The Enemy 

Maximizing Perfection is about cognitive bandwidth. When we strive for greatness in our communication by trying to be perfect in what we say or do, we end up working against ourselves.

Think of your brain as a computer. If you have multiple apps or windows open, your CPU is not functioning at its best. Each of the apps is running slightly slower than it would if it were running alone.

Your brain works the same way. If your brain is constantly judging and evaluating what you are saying, you will have limited bandwidth to focus on what you are saying in the moment.

Strive for connection, not perfection.

Choose Chunky over Smooth

This is about logical structure. When speaking off the cuff” or preparing to speak, cut what you are going to say into chunks or sub-headings, not long lists, or recitations.

For instance, Problem, Solution, Benefit.

Structure helps us to remember what we are going to say, and our audience learn from our presentation.

Facts Tell Stories Sell

We covered this in an earlier education. Humans are wired for stories; we have evolved to pay attention to and remember stories. Not bullet points and lists.


So What,

Now What …..

Will get create stories to use in a presentation, even if we must produce a presentation on the spot.

Attention Deficit

Attention Spans are getting incredibly short. Tik Tok, Twitter, Reels are examples of platforms that create and feed restless minds. Many people now have multiple devices and messaging systems they can only give partial and sporadic attention to.

When speaking, recognise this by being concise, organised and to the point. Going 1 second too long can lose your Audience and they can become impatient with you.

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