As professional business people we should all be familiar with the benefits of public speaking and presenting in terms of influence, credibility, exposure and expert authority status. Becoming an effective speaker is one of the best ways to boost your career and your income. Despite knowing and acknowledging these facts there are still a great many business and professional people who simply cannot bring themselves to get up and do it. Many cite a fear or phobia of public speaking itself and leave it there. By the way, this fear glories in the technical name of glossophobia.
Today, I want to dig a little bit deeper into this phenomenon and briefly analyse some potential root causes of the particular fear involved.
Having worked with many people who have a strong fear of public speaking, it is clear to me many different fears are grouped under this catch-all title. If you are terrified by public speaking, or even just the thought of public speaking, then see if one or more of the following reasons might apply.
Some people are deeply afraid of looking foolish or being laughed at. This can often be as a result of a childhood experience when a peer group or teacher made them self-conscious through inappropriate criticism or laughter.
Some people are afraid of making mistakes when up speaking to any audience. They often do not worry about making mistakes in other areas of their lives but, when they are in front of an audience, the possibility of making any mistakes at all becomes debilitating.
Some people are afraid that others will find them boring or think they have nothing important or interesting to say. This again is amplified by the possibility of a larger audience than they are used to. Despite the fact that the speaker usually has control over their own material, there are times when we’re forced into speaking using someone else’s material which could very well be boring.
Appearing grossly nervous and afraid in front of others is another hugely influential fear associated with speaking in public. Quite often the person may not exhibit this problem in any other areas of their lives.
The last one I will mention today is the fear that the audience is going to be hostile towards them for some reason or the audience will be “out to get them.” This is especially worrying if the news or information being presented is sad, bad or controversial.
The issues mentioned, and there are many more, when coupled with the thought of facing an audience, often represent the sum of all fears for some people and this is why the fear of public speaking is so prevalent. It will be perceived differently for each unique individual of course but just as real to each.
The good news is glossophobia can be reduced to easily manageable proportions. Public speaking itself is definitely a learnable skill and, as with most learnable skills, there are many ways to move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your full potential.
If some or all of these issues are affecting you then there are a great many books on the subject of public speaking which may help you. You could utilise the services of a skilled speaking coach or attend their training courses. I would also highly recommend joining your local Toastmaster International club as this represents an excellent way to start off, build confidence and improve your skills.
I’ll be publishing a variety of tips, thoughts and observations on public speaking and business presentation on this forum so keep a lookout. I will definitely cover ways to handle all the fears listed above in upcoming articles, videos and posts. If you are thinking about developing your speaking skills in any area then I wish you well on your journey. Perhaps we’ll meet up in the future.
Andrew D. Pope
For me, it's all about helping people to maximise their emotional intelligence and their mental resilience.
I help stressed people get their mojo back.
Check out my popular book "The Resilient Professional"
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