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I am terrified of heights. The thought of skydiving, for example makes my stomach do somersaults. I am also very nervous about closed spaces, claustrophobia. People and what they are afraid of is a fascinating subject. Fear itself is a funny thing. For example, in a survey respondents indicated that even more than death, they were afraid of public speaking!
Are you afraid of public speaking? Could I get you to say a few words on how you feel about speaking? - yea, OK. Just kidding.
Fear is what hold most of us back when it comes to developing our public speaking skills.
Why is public speaking so scary? Will you die? I didn't ask if you would FEEL like dying! Obviously there is a fear of failure, but even stronger than failure, I think it is the fear of the UNKNOWN
The first step you can take to deal the fear of public speaking is to eliminate as much of the unknown as you can.
Here is a good way to approach the unknown. Ask questions:
Who will you speak to? What are the audience demographics? What is the average age? Get the answer to all of the WHO questions you can. I have a friend of a friend who was contracted to speak for a school group. She prepared her topic carefully. She did a lot of research to understand the life of the high school student. When she arrived to give her talk, she discovered that the speech she had prepared for high school students would be presented to the faculty, staff and parents! OOPS.
What do you want your audience to take away from your talk? If you can define a few key points that you want your audience to internalize, you will not only have the hooks to hang your speech on, you will also know exactly what points you must drive home and make stick.
When will you speak? How much time do you have to prepare? What time will you present? What time you present can be extremely important.
I heard about a speaker who was hired to present to a group at a three day conference? on the third day?. Right after lunch?
When his time came to present he went to the auditorium and there was only one person in the room. He went up to this guy and said, you know? wow! This is going to be sort of awkward. I don't have to give my talk if you don't want me to. This person in the auditorium said "No go ahead. I'm the next speaker".
Where will you speak. Will you be on a stage. In a big room? In a small room? How will the audience be seated?
Why may be the most important question. If you know why then you know what. Why were you invited to present? Did your prospect ask you to present your product? Did your boss ask you to present a solution to a problem? Why are you there? What is your agenda? What is their agenda?
Fear of the unknown is natural. Eliminate as much of the unknown as you possibly can and you will eliminate many of the reasons for public speaking nervousness.
Steve Brummet is a communication expert, writer and speaker. Steve's company specializes in working with organizations of all types to help their people increase productivity and profit and decrease stress by improving communication skills. As a writer, Steve has been published in Parenting Success, People of Faith and Family-content.com.
Steve says his clients include a Lions Club in Sherman Texas, his mother in law's ladies group and SOMETIMES his wife and four children will listen to him for JUST a little while.
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