Publications & Products
Volume 6, Issue 25

Beat Your Fear of Public Speaking

While you may be uncomfortable with public speaking, the skill is important to have-for both personal and professional reasons, writes one business expert.

"Giving a talk grows so many skill sets: crafting a succinct way to share information, reading an audience, and eloquently handling an adrenaline-heavy moment, writes Lara Hogan for A List Apart.

"You'll prove something to yourself by overcoming a major fear, and you should take pride in knowing you taught a large group of people something new that will hopefully make their work or lives easier."

While public speaking presents a different challenge to everyone, it is still important to master. Hogan gives three tips to help overcome your discomfort.

You're allowed to be anxious. Even the most experienced public speakers get nervous before giving a public talk, and it's totally normal, writes Hogan. Being nervous doesn't mean you will perform poorly, but if you can reframe your anxiety into an indication that you care, you may tap into more energy.

"Caring feels a lot more approachable than dreading failure, and it gives you a way through: use your body's natural reaction to stress to improve your talk," Hogan adds

Focus on your triggers. Hogan recommends thinking about the things that scare you, or excite you, about public speaking. "Once you begin to name what scares you, what comforts you, and what drives you, you'll be able to hone in on which talk format, topic, venue type, and preparation style will calm those fears and build your excitement," she writes.

To get started, think through these questions:
• What makes you most nervous when you think about public speaking?
• What scenarios do you want to avoid?
• What size audience do you think you might be most comfortable speaking to? Why?
• Whose feedback matters most to you on your talk or presentation style?
• What would you want people to take away from your talk?

Do what works for you. You may think you have to avoid saying "um" or "like," or even never read from your notes. But just because you have an idea of what a perfect speaker sounds like doesn't mean you need to emulate that person, writes Hogan. Instead, let go of those expectations and appreciate your unique voice.

"Your voice is valuable, and your own. If you choose to share it, we will all certainly be the better for it," writes Hogan.

This article is from the Advancement Weekly, January 3, 2017 issue.

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