Man looking scared of public speaking

Public Speaking Tips: What Are We Afraid Of?

Mark Steel Confidence

Are you afraid of public speaking? Let’s find out…

Picture this. Take a moment to really picture this scenario in your mind.

The situation: Your manager has asked you to give a 30-minute presentation to 15-20 co-workers.

The topic is something in which you’re most familiar, but there will be a few spots you’re not sure what you’re going to say.

All eyes will be on just you for 30 minutes. You’ll know many of the people in the room, but others you’ve never really talked to before. Not only is your manager going to be there, but so is her boss.

This could really go a long way in helping show you’re worthy of that promotion you’re hoping for later this year.

Or, if it goes poorly… well, you know. One more thing, because the person that was originally supposed to give the presentation is out sick, you just found out yesterday that you needed to step in.

Not good.

Can you see the situation clearly in your head?

Perhaps you’ve even been in that exact situation before or something very similar.

Now, take a moment to assess how your feeling. Is your heart racing a bit? Is your mouth already starting to get a bit drier? Swallowing more often? Is your head filling with thoughts of doubt and “worse case scenarios?”

If you are like many other people on the planet, the answers to those questions would be yes.

In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, public speaking is the #1 fear in America.

Can you imagine that?

People are more afraid to speak up in public than they are of health issues, car accidents, heights, or even creepy, crawly bugs.

So, you are not alone.

Just the mere thought of having to get up in front of a group of people makes our heads start to fill with self-limiting thoughts.

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. – Jerry Seinfeld

Public speaking is not just about presentations

Most people associate the fear of public speaking to just affecting us occasionally. Only if we have to give a presentation at work. But this fear of speaking in public affects our careers in many ways.

This same fear often keeps us from doing our best in job interviews. It keeps us quiet in internal or customer meetings. It stands in our way of opportunities to move up or be noticed at work. A fear of public speaking can very well hold you back from the career you truly seek.

This fear doesn’t just get in our way at work. What about speeches we must give in school or speaking at church functions and community events? Far too often, if we want to participate in activities outside the home, we will likely run into situations where we need to speak in front of others.

You can become comfortable with public speaking

Learning to be comfortable in those situations can help transform how we think of ourselves.

Being better speakers can give us more confidence. It can move us forward in our careers or communities. Even lead us to discover new friends or activities to enjoy that we might not have found if we just stayed quiet in the corner.

In other words, moving beyond your fear of public speaking can transform your life in ways you have yet to imagine!

I was there too

I have learned so much, met so many interesting people, and had so many new opportunities open up to me in the course of my career because I learned to be comfortable with public speaking.

But it wasn’t always easy for me. I started out just like you. Nervous, unsure of myself. I was certain I was going to jumble all my words or lose my train of thought. I was worried that I would stand at the front of the room talking but realize no one was listening.

Instead of letting that fear hold me back, I sought ways to build confidence in public speaking situations.

I was able to learn to control the nerves to the point that I now look forward to the opportunity to speak in front of others. Whether there is just one other person in the room or 100 or even 1000. I’m excited to have the chance to speak to others.

Do I still get a little nervous? Of course!

However, by following a few core principles, I was able to transform how I view speaking to others.

The core principles of public speaking

The great news is that these core principles are not some dark magic that only I possess. They are principles that anyone can follow to become comfortable in all forms of public speaking.

My core principles are:

My approach to being a better public speaker is straightforward enough. We can all agree, I’m not the first one to share these principles.

Yet far too often, people struggle with at least one or two of these principles.

Perhaps you tend to stick with the things you want to do, but you lack confidence. You feel like you are still missing “that thing.” Whatever it is that makes other people appear confident at the front of the room.

Or perhaps you’re worried about changing jobs within your company or moving to another company because you’re worried about the job interview itself.

Being confident isn’t just some elusive magic trait that only other people can achieve. You can learn to be confident in front of others.

Even better news. Building confidence in yourself in one area often leads to you becoming more confident in other parts of your life as well.

Another possibility may be that you already feel confident speaking in front of others but don’t continue to practice at it.

Often we feel we are too busy to commit extra time or you all the skills you need. As a result, you don’t make time to practice. Additionally, you may feel you are getting all the practice you need in front of your customers.

To you, I’ll ask, “How are you getting better if you don’t practice? Do you attend training for other parts of your job from time to time?”

Likely the answer is yes. You agree there is the value of making sure you have the latest techniques and information for other areas of your life or career. Why would you not be taking the time to practice your public speaking skills?

By practicing your public speaking, I know the connection to your customers will benefit, meaning your bank account will benefit, too!

We can help

If you’d like to understand more detail around the core principles, be sure to check out my other blog posts.

Do know others in your life that could benefit from just a tweak of inspiration? Be sure to share this post and encourage them to become a subscriber, just like you!

Climb On!