CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – AUGUST 12, 2021 (PT.1)
Why Do I Still Get Nervous When I Speak in Public?
The point is that there are a BUNCH of people in the world who swear that the crackling and skipping vinyl record is the absolute only way to listen to music. They are delusional. Vinyl records are terrible.
The reason why they think that, though, is because they grew up listening to these records. I think that this is the same thing that happens to people who use these tricks to feel more comfortable speaking. These techniques don’t work, but we have convinced ourselves that they do. So, in situations where we don’t have the crutch to rely on, we feel even more uncomfortable.
For instance, if a person gets really nervous, he/she may write out the first part of the speech word-for-word. The person will likely practice this speech over and over. Next, the person will try to memorize the speech. (Even though this is the exact opposite of what we ask class members to do because they have that habit ingrained when they start, it is difficult to cut it cold turkey.)
What typically happens in this situation is that the added pressure of memorizing the speech increases the nervousness. The person was already nervous in the first place, so this is the proverbial throwing gasoline on the fire.
The challenge gets compounded because the person is likely to get a lukewarm response from the audience, so the nervousness increases even more. So, when we continue to rely on these “crutches,” we make ourselves more nervous, which makes us rely more heavily on the more and more of these crutches.
That is until we find a better way. The thing that I see most often in class is that when people do the simple things that we suggest, it is very easy to see, very quickly by the way, that these new ideas work. Their nervousness drops immediately. It is the vinyl record crowd who have difficulty letting go.
Fear is Reduced After a Series of Successes.
Any time that you are developing a skill, the more successes that you can string together, the faster you will build confidence. The basics of growing confidence versus growing fear are pretty simple and straightforward. First, the more risk involved in a process, the more nervousness will be present in the learning process.
Second, if during the learning process you have success, your confidence grows. If you have a perceived failure, your nervousness grows. Finally, and most importantly to this topic, the closer the instances of success, the more and faster the confidence will grow.
For instance, if I’m practicing a cooking recipe that I saw on YouTube, but I’m in the safety of my own kitchen, and I’m the only one who will taste the final product, there is a low risk of danger. Although I may not be a great cook, I’m not likely to have a lot of nervousness. However, if I’m trying to learn how to skydive, the risk of failure, if I make a mistake, is dire. As a result, nervousness during the process will be extreme.
For many people, the potential embarrassment of flubbing a speech is dire as well. That is why statistics show that as high as 90% of the population has some type of presentation fear.
In addition to the risk involved, our past experience is important. As we develop a new skill, if we have a success, our confidence grows. However, if we have a failure (or even just a perceived failure) we get even more nervous.
When my son started playing Little League Baseball, I wanted to help him succeed.