CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – SEPTEMBER 29, 2021
Why Are We Scared of Public Speaking? (PT.3)
While there are people who by nature tend to be more anxious, or people who don’t think they are good at public speaking, there are certain situations that are likely to make most of us more anxious when presenting in a public forum.
- Lack of experience. As with anything else, experience builds confidence. When you don’t have a lot of stage hours under your belt, you are more likely to experience fear of public speaking.
- Degree of evaluation. When there is a real or imagined evaluation component to the situation, the fear is stronger. If you are speaking in front of a group of people who have the evaluation forms ready to fill out, you may feel more anxious.
- Status difference. If you are about to speak in front of people of higher status (e.g., people at your workplace in higher positions, or groups of accomplished professionals in your line of work), you may feel a higher dose of fear tingling through your body.
- New ideas. If you are sharing ideas that you have not yet shared in public, you may worry more about how people will receive them. When your public appearance involves presenting something new, you may feel more uncomfortable stating your position, taking questions from the audience, or dealing with those audience members who try to poke holes.
- New audiences. You may already have experience speaking in public and presenting to familiar audiences. You may, for instance, be used to speaking in front of professionals in your area of expertise. Fear may arise, however, when the target audience shifts. If you are standing in front of an audience that is very different from the people you usually speak to, your confidence may be a little shaky.
Finally, another factor that contributes to the fear of public speaking is how skilled you are in this area. While many people consider themselves naturally good speakers, there is always room for growth. The people who work on their skills, instead of relying on natural talent, are the speakers who stand out the most. There are many different approaches to enhancing this skill set and increasing competence in public speaking. Increased competence leads to increased confidence, which is an effective antidote to fear. Nevertheless, confidence alone does not translate into effective public speaking.
The many benefits of sharing information and ideas in public definitely outweigh the need to protect ourselves from the horror of having to speak in front of others. The next logical question is: How do we conquer this fear? Luckily, there are many approaches that work well, both in terms of building skills and boosting confidence.