05 Nov The Number One Cause of Fear of Public Speaking
By Elizabeth Peterson, M.A.CCC-SLP
Excerpt from: How to Speak like a Broadcaster and Lead like a CEO
If you have fear of public speaking, the good news is you can have full control of the number one factor that causes it. Can you guess what it is?
The number one cause of fear of public speaking is lack of preparation. This is something where you can take full control. Take the time to practice and rehearse your content. The more time you spend with your material, the more automatic and familiar it will be during your delivery. When you are well rehearsed, confidence will automatically increase and nervous behaviors from public speaking will decrease. It is reasonable to feel nervous. Most people do not recognize the nervous behaviors of a speaker when they are under control, but they do recognize when someone is poorly prepared.
The signs of a poorly prepared speaker are obvious.
- Signs of struggling with the content
- Physical signs are apparent such as shaking, thin voice, poor breath control and (you could put in your own symptoms).
- Having your back turned at the audience to read from your slide
- Fumbling over notes and presentation objects
The good news is you can have full control of this. When I work with clients who have fear of publics peaking, they say it is hard to find time to practice. If speaking before other makes you that overwhelmed, find time to practice. It will make a massive difference in your delivery. There is nothing worse than being in front of a group and “wishing” you had prepared more. Find time to review your material and have full control over the number one fear of public speaking.
How to Rehearse and What to Rehearse. Can you Rehearse too Much?
Stating the obvious, if you want to deliver a sharp and effective presentation you must know your content well. There is an area, that is small, and if it is well rehearsed you will begin your presentation on a very strong note. You can be excellent at public speaking.
This would be your introduction. You have full control over this. I teach my clients that when they walk to the podium, do it with big and quick steps to burn out some of that nervous energy. When turning to see your audience, take a full diaphragm breath. Then take a pause and then deliver your strong introduction.
If you begin with a strong introduction, you will set the tone for a very effective delivery and you will be going into your content feeling confident. There is a method to a strong delivery.
What Can Go Wrong with an Introduction?
It seems that from the beginning of careers we have always done introductions. They are done usually in meetings and before delivering information. The problems is (and see if you do this) that they are often done with a lot of up-speak; ending your statement on a higher note, instead of a lower and more powerful one. This is extremely ineffective and takes always from your leadership image because you are speaking with thinner and higher pitch tones and up-speak which sends nonverbal signals that you are not confident or positive that what you are saying is reliable. Practice your introduction as much as you can. Do it in your car at a red light, whenever you have a moment. Breaking the habit of up-speak for introductions actually takes time if the behavior of up-speak is a part of it. It will take time to get used to speaking on a lower note and eliminating the up-speak behavior from your introduction. When you can deliver a strong introduction at the beginning of your presentation, you are positioning yourself to deliver a strong presentation.
Can you Rehearse too Much?
You actually can. Rehearse your content so you can be conversational with it. You should not have to look at slides to know what to say. Have familiarity with charts and graphs. The goal is to be conversational with the topics. Avoid putting notes in the note section of the PowerPoint. You will gravitate towards it and be stiff and awkward with your delivery. In the beginning, practice it frequently, and then do it less once you are familiar. Practice once the night before. I don’t recommend practicing the day of game day. You can over rehearse and you don’t want to get lost in your thoughts from doing it so much you are not sure of what you said or didn’t say. Rehearsing the day of can cause you to get confused with your content.
Public speaking before a group may not be your favorite thing to do. You can absolutely position yourself to have a powerful delivery by being well rehearsed and starting off with a strong introduction free from up-speak and sounds credible. With these two things in your control, I hope that you are feeling less fearful and more confident.
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