The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Aug 6, 2009

Conquer Fear of Speaking in Public

HP Learning Center:

If you hate public speaking, you’re not alone. In surveys of the top phobias, the fear of public speaking (glossophobia) ranks number one worldwide – ahead of the fear of spiders, heights, flying and even death. In fact, three out of every four individuals suffer from speech anxiety.

The good news is that public speaking is a skill that can be learned and mastered. We’ve compiled some best practices and proven strategies that will help you fight presentation anxiety the next time you have to speak before an audience.

Accept and tame your fear

Start by accepting that you get nervous every time you have to speak in public; it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Now confront your fear by making an effort to do something about it. The worst thing you can do is avoid public speaking altogether. This could have an adverse effect on your career and intensify the fear.

Get rid of perfection

Stop pressuring yourself to deliver a perfect speech. After all, it is just a talk. And if you stumble a bit, you’re probably not going to lose your job. Accept that mistakes will happen. When they do, try to regain your composure quickly and move past it. Chances are, no one will even notice.

Know your material

You will only really feel confident if you truly know your subject matter. Most likely, you are already an expert on the topic about which you are speaking. So capitalize on the fact that you have valuable knowledge to share. If you are not familiar with the topic, do your research and prepare until you feel confident that you can handle any questions that might come up. Get excited about the subject. If the subject matter is boring, inject an anecdote or quotation or a human interest element.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Nobody is a born pianist. One must learn how to play the piano and practice countless hours in order to do it gracefully and effortlessly. Likewise, good speakers aren’t born, they’re made. So the next time you give a speech, give yourself plenty of time to prepare, organize the material, practice delivering it and polish it before you face the audience. Remember, the more often you speak in public, the better you’ll get.

Focus on your audience

Instead of putting the focus on yourself and worrying about what other people think of you, turn the focus onto your audience. Smile, make eye contact. Encourage interaction by drawing them into your presentation and asking leading questions. Not only does this make you a more dynamic and engaging speaker, it also helps take the pressure and eyes off you.

Picture success

Stop visualizing a disastrous performance. You’ll only make yourself more nervous, and your brain will automatically associate public speaking with negative emotions. Instead, replace these negative images with images of success. Picture yourself standing confidently in front of a crowd and delivering a great speech. Doing this will turn negative associations into positive ones and help to program your brain and your body for success.

Look and feel your best

If you go into your speech feeling and looking good, it will help you feel more relaxed and confident when you face your audience. Try to get enough sleep the night before so you are as well rested as possible. Don’t eat too much right before your talk. Wear a favorite outfit, something flattering that you feel comfortable and confident in.

If you want to practice speaking in public but without the pressure of speaking in professional situations, consider joining a local Toastmasters International chapter. This non-profit public speaking and leadership organisation helps you practice speaking in a supportive environment with constructive feedback from your peers.

For more career and personal development tips and courses, visit the HP Learning Center.

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