Public speaking fear is also known as Glossophobia, a fear which so many people seem unable to cope with. Sheer terror is what many of us experience when faced with the prospect of any form of public speaking or a formal presentation in the workplace. Red face, red neck, sweaty hands, sweaty brow, trembling knees, tense shoulders, dry mouth, palpitations, short breath… The symptoms are pretty varied.
Fear of Failure
Many of our clients have been sick with worry days before a presentation or speech. The fear of failure – in this case often a fear of what others think – is a very common theme. Attaching this much importance to how others view us can be likened to the definition of ego in traditional Eastern mindsets – holding on to things as opposed to allowing everything to flow. Hold on tightly, let go lightly. It’s the latter part of that maxim we struggle with.
The great news for those who panic is that no planes will crash and nobody will come to harm as result of a mediocre speech or presentation. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever died as a direct result of a poor quarter end financials presenation.
Also, nobody in your audience, be it a team brief or major keynote speech, wants you to fall flat on your face – everyone is supporting you and wants your speech or presentation to be brilliant – perhaps knowing this can strangely add more pressure to the prospect of a public speech for some people.
Vital to have a Key Message
The absolute, most important thing to have nailed down before opening your mouth is a key message. This equates to a need to communicate, a call to action, what you want your audience to think, feel, do differently as a result of your speech/presentation. It is the single most important component of your performance. In theory, you should be able to deliver an entire presentation with just one slide – your key message.
What is a key message? A short statement or question, using everday language that should be news to those hearing it. Deliver in person with the appropriate verve, passion, wit etc as befits your particular message and you’re well on your way to beating the onset of panic. At any fleeting moments of doubt or fretting about what others think, simply return to your message and all will work itself out.
Haven’t got a key message..? Then you haven’t got a speech or presentation that can ever work properly which makes it easier for nerves, panic and self-doubt to set in before and during the event and you really would be much better off emailing those boring slides…
Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.
Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication