How To Overcome The Fear of Public Speaking

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You Can Deal With The Fear Of Public Speaking So You Can Deliver Outstanding Presentations

The irony of public speaking is that whilst on the one hand, it is perhaps the most competitive skills to develop in the 21st century – on the other hand, it is also represents one of the top phobias people have. Public speaking is a powerful form of communication that has been used for various purposes including pitching ideas in the corporate world, persuading people to adopt a way of life and engaging electorates in an election campaign. In today’s world, it’s not always the person that offers the most value that gets the buy-in of the critical stakeholders – it’s the person that can best communicate such value that usually gets the nod.

Public speaking is both a science and an art, it is a crucial skill for top leaders and how effective you are at using this skill, determines how well you can drive the change you seek in all spheres of life. The fear of public speaking also known as glossophobia, is a social anxiety disorder that hinders people from effectively communicating the value they possess. This can be tackled in many ways which include lifestyle changes, exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and in some cases, medication. Here as some smart hacks to overcoming the fear of public speaking for the purposes of delivering outstanding presentations.

  1. Master Your Material

Nothing boosts self-confidence like great preparation. This is because in the course of creating content, studying and documenting your ideas – you become more immersed in the material such that it becomes a part of you. Being thorough with your preparation makes you an authority on the subject-matter because you’re not afraid of your thoughts being interrogated by others. The fear that comes with unpreparedness is usually founded in the assumption that the audience will see through any shallow or infantile submissions. This is why thought-leaders are so called because they spend time refining their content such that when they present it, the audience defers to their competence and expertise.

Foremost public speakers are known to captivate audiences with their oratory skills. These speakers believe that “everyone including you suffers when you refuse to be all and do all you can”. When put in the context of public speaking, this speaks to the fact that you won’t deliver an outstanding pesentation when you don’t put in the work in. Don’t just copy and paste information from search engines and other sources without internalizing it. Even when the information is generic, you need to own it whenever you speak.

  1. Know Your Audience

You must be cognizant of those you are speaking to, so you can better frame your content. Messaging is all about saying the same thing but in an audience-appropriate language. By understanding the nuances of the demography you’re presenting before, you can better couch your ideas to appeal to both their reason and their sentiments. By properly profiling your audience, you significantly reduce the fear of the unknown that usually comes with public speaking. Each person then registers as an avatar in your head and you become more comfortable address a group of people as though they were just one person. Knowing your audience informs you of the right register to use which is a win-win because it’s both an emotionally intelligent play and it makes your presentation appear very professional.

Former president of the United States, Barack Obama is known for his gift of the garb. The most significant inflection point for his political career came when he delivered what is today known as, “The Speech That Made Obama President” at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He read the room, knowing how divided the country was and used the right messaging, by couching phrases such as, “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America.” He entered that event as a young Illinois Senate candidate but when he was done with his speech, he left no doubt about his presidential prospects at the next elections.

  1. Look The Part

The cliché holds true, “you will be addressed the way you’re dressed” – this is because your audience will see you before they hear you. You can build confidence by working on your sartorial excellence. Research suggests that there’s a strong correlation between how you look and your self-confidence. So one of the things you can do to overcome your fear of public speaking is to invest in a good wardrobe; it also includes personal grooming – your hair, fingernails, skin, beards etc. When you’re badly dressed, you provide a cannon fodder of distraction for your audience to feed off on – it makes them talk more about your looks that your ideas.

This is why most politicians, celebrities and other public figures pay particular attention to their styling. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has a signature outlook; a well-tailored Ankara dress and a stylishly-adorned headgear. Anytime she gives a speech, she oozes confidence and authority such that her audiences are held spell-bound by her riveting submissions. You don’t have to break the bank before you can look awesome, you just have to be creative with your fashion combination.

  1. Tell Stories

One of the most brilliant ways to ease nervousness and connect to your audience is to take the storytelling approach. People want to feel as though they are heard and seen; they want to feel as though the speaker can relate to who they are – so the easiest way to warm your way into the hearts of your audience is to identify the cultural touch points and use them as a pulpit to convey your message. Sometimes, the fear of public speaking doesn’t come because you haven’t adequately prepared your presentations, it comes from an almost antagonistic audience who feel alienated from you. Identity is very important to any audience and failure on your part as a speaker to recognize that will make it very difficult to pass your otherwise brilliant message.

Sometime ago, President Buhari visited Imo State to commission a few projects, not only did he appear in the traditional Isi-Agu attire, he alluded to the strong and enterprising nature of the people of Imo and the Igbos at large. As sentimental as it may sound, it changed the perception and the narrative that had beclouded his administration’s commitment to the region. 

  1. Practice! Practice!! Practice!!!

You can only get better at what you repeatedly do. When you commit to improving yourself and investing in personal development – you systematically overcome the fear of public speaking. You must first start with talking to yourself in your personal space, looking at yourself in the mirror or even rehearsing a written speech – then proceed to taking advantage of every opportunity you get to make a speech. The mistake most people make is that they assume mastery will happen overnight instead of overtime. Until you learn to comfortably address very small audiences in your social space, you will not suddenly be endowed with the confidence to face large audiences. Also watch how other great speakers deliver their speeches and imbibe some of their practices.

Hollywood superstar, Samuel L. Jackson used to have a very nasty stutter as a child. Things changed for him after he joined a local acting group in school, being exposed to a craft that had great orators and for which elocution and erudition were prerequisites – he began to flip the script. By constantly taking up speaking roles and working on his stutter, he built enough confidence in himself and ultimately convinced everyone around him that public speaking wasn’t an exclusive reserve of a few. Today, he is one of the biggest names in box office history, appearing in movies that have grossed over $27 billion worldwide.

  1. Get World-Class Training

There is a limit to which you can wing it in your quest to overcome the fear of public speaking; at some point you will need a professional to hold your hand and walk you through the process. Getting the right training puts you in pole position to harness the comprehensive benefits of public speaking which includes but are not limited to: career advancement, enhanced self-esteem, critical thinking, personal development, expansion of personal and professional network, improved communication skills and leadership quotient. There are certain technical nuances as well as social protocols that must be followed in public speaking that can only be effectively taught by those who have been certified to do so both in principle and by their practice.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go too far in your search of professional public speaking coaches. At The CHAMPIONS TRIBE GLOBAL LLC, we are very thorough in our quest in ensuring that you are not held bound by the demons of glossophobia. With surgical precision, we examine the source of the phobias you have on the subject – whether natural or learnt. By applying certain techniques, lessons and exercises, we create a custom playbook that addresses your challenges. Reputable individuals and organizations that have passed through our sessions and masterclasses have reported a positive spike in their outcomes in personal, business and social spheres.

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