Does the thought of speaking in public make you want to throw up?
The fear of speaking in public (referred to as ‘Glossophobia’) outweighs people’s fear of death.
In fact, the fear of speaking in public is THE greatest fear people can have – according to Glossophobia.com.
A few years ago one of my business colleagues approached me and asked me to work with her husband.
He was a senior executive in the transportation industry and had recently been presented with an opportunity to step up the corporate ladder into one of the company’s top senior roles.
He had been working towards this role for many years, and now finally the opportunity had presented itself. However upon learning the role would require him to speak in front of staff and customers – he promptly turned it down.
His fear of speaking in public.
He turned down the job opportunity that he had dreamed about (and had worked extremely hard towards) for years because of his fear of public speaking.
So, like my colleagues’ husband, if you are one of the 75% of people who fear public speaking, you’ve probably been reading my recent Speaking to Grow Your Business articles, thinking: “Yeah right Annemarie – it’s never going to happen.”
Today’s article is for you. Here are three things you can do to begin minimizing your fear of speaking in public, so you can finally start to reap the many benefits that speaking to grow your business, offers.
1. Pinpoint the source of your fear
What is it that you are really afraid of?
When I ask clients this question, common responses include:
- That I will forget what I want to say;
- That people will laugh at me;
- That people will think I’m silly;
- That people will criticize me;
- That I will make a fool of myself;
- And the list goes on.
WE are our own worst enemy and critic, and often what we really fear would never happen.
Let me explain…
Many years ago I participated in a training course that taught us how to assess staff training needs, develop specific course curriculum, and then deliver the training to increase staff productivity and performance.
The very first day of the course (before we even had a chance to learn more about the other students) we each had to stand in front of the entire group and speak about any topic for two minutes.
I hadn’t spoken in public for many years so was very nervous. (If I remember correctly, the last time I had spoken in front of a group of people was when I was 8 years old for show and tell, which was more than 15 years ago).
So I was petrified.
As I got up and walked to the front of the room I honestly thought I was going to pass out. My heart was pounding so hard and so loud, I thought everyone would hear it.
Those were the longest two minutes of my life. After I finished I wanted to curl up in a ball and shield my ears from the feedback I was about to receive from the class.
I didn’t need to hear how bad my two-minute speech (aka ramble) was. I was there and had first-hand experience about how unprofessional it had been.
However, to my surprise, what I thought would be negative criticism, wasn’t.
People were interested in what I had to say; the feedback I received was that I had spoken clearly; and had come across as a confident speaker.
WHAT???!!! Are they kidding?
Were they in the same room?
I could have sworn what I heard come out of my mouth was mumbo jumbo; I rambled on like an idiot; and I was so nervous – even my finger nails were sweating.
But that was not what the audience had seen.
WE are our own worst enemy and can worry ourselves into a stupor, if we let ourselves.
Don’t let yourself.
Pinpoint the source of your fear and you’ll realise (like I did) that often YOU are the main source of your fears.
Action step: STOP the internal negative chitter chatter.
2. Prepare your Signature Talk
Like anything in life – preparation is THE key to success.
You wouldn’t expect to turn up and ace an exam without any preparation beforehand, would you.
It’s the same with your Signature Talk – preparation is key.
According to Wayne Burgraff:
“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.”
- Know your audience’s needs and expectations PLUS
- Create content that creates value AND desire to know more EQUALS
- A Signature Talk that people will love AND will generate subscribers, leads and clients
Action Step: Start preparing your Signature Talk!
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Steve Jobs was renowned for his exceptional presentations.
Not only did he spend days preparing his talk, he also spent days rehearsing the delivery of his presentation.
How much practice are you putting into the delivery of your Signature Talk?
According to a study (back in the 1970’s) that measured the impact of communication:
- 55% of the impact of communication were visual elements; your body language and your mannerisms;
- 38% of the impact of communication came from auditory elements; your tone, speed and pace of your voice; and
- Only 7% of the impact of communication came from the words that were spoken.
Interesting that 93% of the impact of communication was not what you said, but how you said it.
While the words (i.e. content) you speak need to make sense, what’s going to make the most impact with your audience is how you deliver your talk.
Whenever I’m about to deliver a Signature Talk that’s either a new topic or one I haven’t delivered that often, I will rehearse it all the way through at least 5 to 7 times, or until it just flows out of my mouth.
Over the years my little pooch has been a very attentive audience of one – and still is, as I practice, practice, practice my presentation.
Going over my presentation that many times beforehand, means that when it comes to going live, I can concentrate on the delivery. I can concentrate on my language, the gestures I use and my voice, because I know this is what is going to make the biggest impact with my audience.
Action Step: Practice, Practice, Practice
Join in the conversation
Question for you: “Do you fear speaking in public? What have you done to help you get over your fear? What other things do you recommend people try to help them get over their fear of public speaking?” Scroll down to the comments section and join in the conversation…