When I introduce my clients to a number of physical techniques to overcome their fear of public speaking, I know many of them are sure I am stark raving mad. Particularly the one about the Super Hero pose to increase confidence.
Amy Cuddy, in this fabulous TED talk, explains the science behind those Super Hero poses and how effective they can be in making a real change in your responses to life.
I am narrowing that wider field of discussion to addressing the often paralysing fear many people have when faced with the prospect of speaking in public.
It is often surprising to hear the answers, when I ask my clients: ‘What is it that you fear?’
- ridicule – people will laugh at me
- the mind going blank and looking like an idiot
- forgetting everything or losing place in the notes
- a repeat of the awkward excruciating presentations from school
When I delve further, some of these events (particularly the vomiting one) have never happened for each of the fearees!
I have decided to use the term ‘fearee’ because it lightens up the heavy atmosphere built around panic and distress.
The fearee is being held hostage by the fears of potential future embarrassment.
None of these feared events has happened yet, there has never been an episode of laughter or derision from an audience, no mind actually going blank and school presentations were a LONG time ago.
ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY
I can hear you saying but it happened to me! I did go blank and I was so embarrassed!
I never want to be exposed to that again. I HATE public speaking.
OK, don’t ever try again. But it might be worth noting that every time you speak to someone other than yourself (or the cat or dog) you are arguably speaking in public.
Saying good morning to the spouse/children/neighbour/commuter on the train/boss/staff/colleague – that is speaking in public. Discussing football scores – that is speaking in public.
Talking about last night’s episode of NCIS – yes speaking in public again.
It really is only another step up to speaking to more than one person at a time.
There are obviously a range of situations where decrease in comfort level for you will clash against a rising scale of significance for success at each event of public speaking but it comes down to something quite simple.
WHAT TO DO
Do you want/need to speak in public?
Does your business need you to be out front more?
Is giving presentations important for promotion in your career?
Do you just want to be able to speak confidently in public?
If the answer is NO? Well your pets are very lucky, they will be the only ones ever to hear your voice.
If the answer is YES! Well there are so many ways you can start on the road to becoming a confident public speaker.
Take a look at the video by Amy Cuddy. The principles she sets out are so blindingly obvious.
Standing with your hands on your hips for two minutes doesn’t sound too arduous does it? That’s when you testosterone starts to kick in and there is a difference in the way you feel.
Give it a try – right now!
Join a Toast Masters Club or better still join a choir and enjoy making sounds with other people anonymously.
Visit events with guest speakers and find out which speaking styles resonate with you.
Read to yourself out loud start to hear what your voice sounds like.
If you are really serious maybe you should make contact with a public speaking coach.
Frances Cahill is a speaker, a master pitch polisher and public speaking coach. Her programs offer a unique combination of practical drama techniques and the theory of public speaking. Drop a line or give her a call for the chance to find a new level of confidence in your presentation skills.