Last week I attended a public speaking course for 3 days through work. First off, I dreaded the class.. PUBLIC SPEAKING. YIKES! I’m horrible at presentations or standing up to speak in front of others. I get these awful butterflies in my stomach and I race through whatever I’m going to say. So needless to say I was not excited about the class, BUT it was certainly something that I needed to improve upon.
Thankfully the class size was small and about 50% of the participants were people I already knew, yet as the introductory speeches started I found that when it got closer and closer to my turn I could slowly feel my nerves begin to rise and my hands begin to shake. WHY? I have no clue. All I had to say was my name, my title, where I’m from, and some other general stuff. So WHY was I so nervous??
I don’t know.. but I wasn’t the only one. As it turns out Public Speaking is a highly ranked fear in America. For some it’s #1. But why?? What is it about standing up in front of people that makes us so fearful? Even if public speaking isn’t your #1 fear (Mine = heights), you still get the same nervousness and physical reaction to some degree.
As it turns out we fear many different things..
- The WHAT IF scenarios… what if I completely forget what I’m talking about, what if I trip and fall, what if I stutter, etc.
- The new circumstances…a new job, a new topic, new crowd, etc.
- The situational fear… these people know more than I do, these people have more positional power than I do, etc.
- The unprepared… I’m just winging it, I’m not sure what I’m going to say, I haven’t practiced how to say it, etc.
- The overreaction to the physical reaction.. as humans we are designed to either fight or flee so standing up to speak makes us feel threatened and our natural response is to become more fearful.
Of course all of these completely make sense but how do you change the way you feel about public speaking? (Insert what we learned in 3 days)…..By learning tips and tools to reduce the fear that you can reduce. By practicing, taking deep breaths to control your natural response, preparing yourself and going in with a SO WHAT attitude (essentially give it your ALL and that’s the best you can do so “so what” ), and most importantly realize….
you may feel extremely nervous and feel like everyone can tell but in reality they don’t even see the butterflies in your stomach or your quickened heartbeat or your palms sweating… all they see is what you are portraying to them with your body, your eyes, your face and your words. So stand tall and be confident my fearful friend!
(Thank GOD that’s over)