Over Coming The Fear Of Public Speaking
James Woewoda is the president of Woewoda Communications
In my last post I discussed PR And The Fukushima Disaster: Lessons Learned
Today's post is titled "Overcoming The Fears Of Public Speaking"
Afraid of speaking in public? If so, your are in good company. Statistically speaking 3 our of 4 people fear public speaking. Speech anxiety is so common that there is a term for it - glossophobia.
According to the Wall Street Journal, public speaking is the number one fear in America. The fear of death ranks number 2. That's right, we seem to be more afraid of public speaking than we are of our own demise.
In 2014 a Washington Poll survey supported the Wall Street Journal findings. In that survey the fear of public speaking ranked number 1, followed by heights at number 2 and then bugs, spiders and other animals at number 3.
So it would seem that the fear of public speaking is not at all uncommon.
What drives this fear? Well for starters, when we speak in public we feel naked and exposed in front of an audience. We think people are going to scrutinize everything we say and do.
In addition, when we speak in front of an audience we want ourselves to be perfect, we dread the possibility of not doing well; in the back of our minds we are thinking about possibility of being humiliated or rejected because of something we said, or how we said it. As a result, our self esteem, our confidence, and our self worth suffers.
How to over come it? First, build your self esteem, but that takes time. In the meantime, practice the following tips titled "6 keys to confident presentation."
1) Know what you want. Set a clear objective of what you want your listeners to know or do at the end. The more emphasis you put on the listener, the less emphasis you will have on how you look or how you sound etc...
2) Think about your audience. Who are you speaking to and why? What knowledge do they have? What do they care about? Get curious, investigate and stay interested in them.
3) Put some thought into flow. Instead of just blurting out what to say, think like a teacher. What is the best way to convey your information? How can you piece it together so it makes sense and understandable.
4) Connect the dots. Help your listeners to have the "aha" from your speaking. If your objective is to teach or to train, how will you know you have succeeded? Make it easy for them to see that it matters.
5) Emphasis their needs. f your listeners care about something you have not planned to address, it is okay to say "I don't know that, I will get back to you." You do not have to be an expert on everything. You just have to meet the needs of your audience . The more you do that, the less you will think about yourself.
6) Have a take away. Make the communication meaningful. Establish next steps or a follow up. Prepare some sort of closure for your audience so that they recognise some value in what they heard. Don't assume it; confirm it.
The more you focus on the people, the less you will focus on yourself. This in turn will lead to less anxiety and the worry about "are they judging me?
By focusing on your audience and by applying the six key points, you will lessen your anxiety, your confidence will grow, and as a result, you will become a better public speaker.
Psychology Today, Communication Success, "5 tips to reduce the fear of public speaking"
Psychology Today, Understand Other People, "Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking"
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