GUEST BLOG: The fear of public speaking

Lifestyle | Wed 30 Mar | Author – Business & Finance

By William Corless, ICF-accredited ACC coach

One of the most common struggles people have in life is speaking in public.

You may have always managed to avoid these scenarios like the plague. You may also be in a place where enough is enough and you just want to be equipped to be comfortable and confident to present without the all the drama attached.

From a personal perspective, it can be sometimes easy to wiggle out of these stressful scenarios. Sooner or later from a professional context, avoiding a presentation at work or leaving it until the last minute can start to impact your career or work life.

Most people have the same fears: looking silly, what will people think, being forgetful, babbling or not getting to the point. It is really important to overcome these fears and understand where these unhelpful beliefs come from. Once you challenge these beliefs you can make huge strides, which will impact both your personal and professional life.

UNDERSTANDING STRESS

Most people become stressed when it comes to public speaking. Surveys often quote that the number one fear amongst the population is public speaking. To put this in context fear of death is number two on the list.

It is useful to remember the purpose of stress. Stress is a function of the human body designed to protect you, once you reframe how you see stress it will make public speaking such a different experience.

To help with this reframe remember FEAR (false evidence appearing real). The more relaxed you are the easier it is to communicate, so find ways to relax before presenting.

CONFIDENCE

Believing in your self is a great start to increasing your confidence. Always play to your strengths. What people tend to do is compare themselves to others and then they never match up.

Comparing yourself to others can be limiting and damaging. Everyone has his or her own personality and style. Play to your strengths and be your authentic self. Sometimes you just got to imagine that confident state and fake it until you make it can be a good strategy until it comes second nature to you.

Sooner or later from a professional context, avoiding a presentation at work or leaving it until the last minute can start to impact your career or work life

STRUCTURE

Always start with the audience in mind. What is the purpose of your presentation? What would interest them? It is really important to capture the audience’s attention and maintain their attention. Here preparation is key. Have structure, a beginning, middle and end.

Ensure you know what key messages you would like them to remember and find ways to make those messages memorable. Remember: what would you like the audience to think, feel or take action on.

ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE

Many people would love to have the confidence to engage the audience but just don`t know how. This is about understanding your audience and meeting their needs. Build rapport; be brave and curious when it comes to audience interaction.

Being able to read people’s body language and influence people will increase your ability to engage the audience. Remember; always put yourself in the audience’s shoes.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

If you ever learned to drive a car, you will know you didn’t just drive automatically to your destination without guidance. Treating presentations the same will help you improve. Seek feedback from others on how you could improve and look specifically at what others do.

Remember, look back, reflect on what you did well and find ways to improve. Focus on presentations as a learning experience to becoming an expert to presenting with impact confidently.

Photo (above): Tamaki Sono

William CorlessAbout the blogger

William Corless is an ICF-accredited ACC coach.

He brings over 15 years’ experience in general management, supply chain, team development and strategy.

William is an IMI associate faculty and teaches on Presenting With Impact.