Public Speaking: Are You Fearful?

By: Ashlee FB

I was in a presentation recently and was told that in the list of “top ten fears,” public speaking comes in second (behind the fear of dying). I had to look this statistic up, as this seemed outrageous to me. What I found, however, was that in some polls the fear of public speaking actually came in as the biggest human fear in the world for most people. Check out this link to IBM’s website if you don’t believe me.

This made me curious as to what exactly are people afraid of when it comes to public speaking. What I found makes perfect sense and I’m sure many of you are able to relate to this! The following is a short synopsis on my research as to why people are so afraid of public speaking, as well as a few ways to overcome this fear.

First, we are human, and none of us are perfect. Yet, when it comes to public speaking, some of us tend to kick ourselves over every mistake we make. These mistakes, in fact, are usually much less noticeable to the audience being presented to and we tend to magnify our imperfections, while ignoring all of the things we’ve done well. The truth is, even the best, most experienced speakers make mistakes. When they do, they recover gracefully, and this makes their mistake a little less noticeable. This is one of the keys to public speaking success: to keep going gracefully. The audience will never know most of your mistakes, unless you halt your speech, break down, and confess them. Carry on with poise. Give yourself permission not to be perfect.

Second, there’s something about standing in front of an audience, with all eyes on that person makes the presenter so nervous; this is understandable. From my research, psychologists suggest that public speaking phobia (glossophobia) is “often associated with the fear of rejection at a primal level. The fear of being rejected is so strong because we are not only afraid of being ashamed, or judged; we are afraid of being excluded from the social group, abandoned and left to protect ourselves all on our own.” (source)

Lastly, sometimes it is only human nature to get nervous about our own nervousness. Public speaking, among other things, is almost considered to be a self-fulfilling prophecy when feeling like you might make a mistake. Nervousness is a form of energy, and really is just our adrenaline flowing. Speakers that find themselves to be successful know how to make this energy work for them, and turn that nervousness into enthusiasm and engagement.  The take away from this point is that it is okay to be nervous, as again, we are only human.  What is important is to try to take the nervous energy you might have and make it work for you!

What are some of your tips when it comes to public speaking?

Related Reading: 4 Reasons to Learn How to Speak in Public

Read Ashlee’s other posts

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