Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear—That’s a Stupid Strategy

After my podcast show on overcoming the fear of public speaking, I was curious how many people still think that it is a good idea to picture their audience in their underwear.

So I asked a question to find out if people already knew that there are better ways to overcome their number one fear. Man, I was dead wrong. I got comments about picturing the audience members as watermelons, pandas, and, of course, in their underwear. You’ve got to be kidding me! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of cool underwear. I got dozens of them, but I don’t think this is something you want to have a mental picture of when speaking in front of an audience.

Here’s the deal. What if you, like many speakers (including me), feel more nervous and embarrassed to picture the audience half-naked? Is there a more effective solution? Oh yes! The reason most people fail to overcome their fear of public speaking is that they are not willing to do the quick and dirty work. Because of this, many of us struggle for the rest of their lives.

The Illusion of Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear

There is a difference between picturing and fantasizing. If you imagine your audience taking all their clothes off and remaining only in their underwear smiling at you, that is not picturing; that is fantasizing. Don’t do it in front of your audience. That’s not the kind of picturing that gets over your public speaking anxiety.

A Better Way to Picture Your Audience

Picture that you are talking to your friends in the living room; you share interesting life stories and see your friends enjoying every moment of your speaking. They applaud and say, “You’re amazing!” How do you feel? I don’t feel nervous. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel confident. I feel relaxed. I feel comfortable.

Next time when you feel nervous about speaking in front of an audience, picture your audience as your friends:

  1. You are sharing a life-changing message with them.
  2. Your focus on helping the audience improve their lives.
  3. You are having a conversation with them. With this transformational mindset, you will overcome the fear of public speaking and build your confidence quickly.

Now, it’s time to paint a new mental picture. This time, get your audience fully dressed. Picture your audience as your friends, and watch yourself speaking with confidence.


About Jonathan Li

Public Speaking Coach and Author, Jonathan Li helps online entrepreneurs overcome the fear of public speaking. He is the host of The Expressive Leader, a weekly podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs including Chris Brogan and Nancy Duarte. He believes every online entrepreneur can overcome the fear of public speaking. In his book, The Expressive Leader, he discusses how to deliver your message effectively, confidently, and have the impact you want on the audience. Want to see Jonathan in action – then watch his speech as a TEDx speaker.

You can receive effective and powerful public speaking training from Jonathan at http://TheExpressiveLeader.com.


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