I spend a lot of time reading articles from magazines, newspapers, and blogs whose authors proclaim they have the solutions for the fear of public speaking. The reality is there is no solution to that fear. As a person who has spoken for 25 years as well as coached others for the last ten, there will never come a time when you are cured. The fact is fear is a part of public speaking. You can be anxious because it is a new topic that you are speaking on, you didn’t prepare as well as you would have liked, or you really want the speech to go well, the reasons are endless.
One of the root causes of this fear is always the same. We are not always afraid of giving the speech or really even what comes out of our mouths. For the most part, we are always concerned with what are listeners are thinking about us and the message. The underlying and all-pervasive reality is listeners contribute to our fear, and since speaking by ourselves is never going to get anyone anywhere it will always be with us. The question then becomes how do I deal with managing my fear of my listeners?
Now don’t get me wrong. I do not think we are afraid of our listeners because they exist. I doubt many of us look at the people in a board room or in an audience or even a client and think “Goodness, I am afraid of these human beings!” No, we are afraid of the judgement they will pass. Do they like us, our voice, the speech, and will they take the actions we are suggesting? So when dealing with the fear of public speaking, one must come to terms with not being able to control the listeners or what they are thinking. Using my extensive experience as well as research into listener psychology, I offer the following tips to help with that:
- People are more predictable than you think!
When we think of groups of people, whether our managers, listeners, or customers, they all share commonalities. All groups of people share common attributes we can consider as we prepare a speech. We share age ranges, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds, family make-up, race, sociopolitical background, etc. The more you know about who you are presenting to, the better. As you uncover this information, people become more (more…)