Public Speaking Skills: Public Speaking Fear Comes From Perceived Failure

Public speaking skill is just like any other skill in that the more success that you have, the more self-confidence in public speaking that you develop. The more failures, or perceived failures, that you experience, the more public speaking fear that you are going to experience. The nervousness or anxiety that you feel when you present is normal, but experiencing that public speaking fear for the rest of your life definitely isn’t.

Where does Public Speaking Fear Come From?

Think about any skill that you have developed in your life. For instance, you didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to ride a bike, drive a car, play a musical instrument, or work your iPhone. The first time that you tried any of these activities, you probably experienced some type of discomfort or nervousness. The key to gaining self-confidence in these, or any skill, is to have some type of success where you grow. If the early stages of the skill development are wrought with failures, though, the self-confidence will diminish. For instance, if someone who had never driven a car before gets behind the wheel of a car all by himself or herself (no teacher or coach), then there is a good chance that this first experience is not going to go very well. If the first attempt to drive is on a freeway, then that fear, just like public speaking fear, is going to be huge. At the end of the drive, the person might say something like, “I never, ever, want to experience that again!” If a boss forces the person to attempt the skill years later, that fear is going to grow.

Public Speaking Skill is Developed through Success

A better way to learn a skill is to start with something less risky. In the car example above, most people start in a parking lot with a parent or a coach. Once the confidence increases a little, then the new driver might move to making right-hand turns around a neighborhood. Then move to left-turns. Then maybe get into a higher traffic area. The freeway is last. If you are trying to develop public speaking skills and eliminate public speaking fear, you’ll want to take a similar approach.

Start with something less risky like speaking up at the staff meeting. Most managers or executives want input on ideas or problems during staff meetings. Develop a habit of speaking up at least once during these discussions. Next, volunteer to give a report on a project at a staff meeting. Once you get more comfortable with these types of public speaking opportunities, try something more risky. Maybe ask questions as an audience member in a bigger presentation. Remember that just as when you tried more complicated things in learning to drive, at every stage you experienced more nervousness, when you got to the freeway, the parking lot felt really safe. The same thing will happen with public speaking fear. As you start to experience more complicated presentations, the easier presentations become second nature.

A Public Speaking Coach can Speed Up Your Confidence Growth

Just like the parent or coach who taught you step-by-step how to drive a car, a good public speaking coach can shave a lot of time off your learning curve. For instance, if you went in the parking lot for your first driving experience, it might take you a while to learn how to park correctly. The hardest part would be that you would have very little frame of reference to compare your skill with, so you may not know when you are doing a good job. That questioning that you would have in the back of your mind would cause nervousness. One of the most important parts of coaching is having someone tell you when you did the skill correctly. By the way, you don’t have to go out and find a professional business coach or public speaking coach. Just look for someone who you think presents very well in front of a group and ask the person to watch you and give you feedback. A lot of toasting clubs use this type of coaching.

If your time is short, though, you might want to hire a professional coach. A good public speaking coach can help you develop public speaking skills in a day or two that would take most people years to develop and keep you from developing bad habits. For instance, when I was in my twenties, I wanted to learn how to play golf. I was broke, so I bought some cheap second-hand clubs and went down to the municipal golf course. After a few months, I got pretty good, but I had a terrible slice which hurt my range quite a bit. When I played with friends, I was always two or three strokes behind the group. Eventually, I just figured that golf wasn’t my game, and I stopped playing. Years later, I tried taking it back up and went to a golf-pro near my house. I asked him how long it would take me to become competitive. He said, “Well, if you had come to me in the beginning, maybe a few months, but now, it’s going to be much harder.” When I asked him why, he explained to me that because of my slice, I had developed a habit of turning my body differently to correct the symptom. I knew my ball was going to drift, so, over the years, I just changed my aiming point. My body had become used to that swing, that I had to unlearn that habit before I could re-learn a more proper swing.

If I had just practiced early on with feedback from someone who could already do what I wanted to do, I could have saved myself some time and frustration. In public speaking skills, you can too. Look for a mentor who has already eliminated his/her fear and let that person coach you. Your coach will help you eliminate your public speaking fear much faster.

5 Vital Public Speaking Tips

If you are a frequent visitor to my site, you have probably learnt that I was a two-time captain of the Debate Club in my university while I was undertaking my undergraduate study. Plus, I was also a Toastmasters Club member for around 3 years.

Personally, I don’t consider myself an expert in the field of public speaking even though I have attended many local and international public speaking competitions and experienced public speaking to over 1,000 people in an event. Instead, I would like to call myself an experienced person in the world of presentation, public speaking and communication.

In this article, I would like to share with you guys what I think are the 5 most important Public Speaking Tips. You can take these tips to improve your Public Speaking ability. Trust me when I tell you that Public Speaking skills is crucially important and can actually lead you to the peak of your life especially if your goal is to become a leader in any of your life pursuit.

1. Positive Mental Attitude

Personally, I’ve never heard or seen anyone die of public speaking. So, there is nothing to be afraid of public speaking. It’s easier said than done, right? It truly is, yet such fear can really be overcome.

Many people are afraid of public speaking because they don’t like the feeling of nervousness when they have to stand on the stage and face with many eyes locked on them. In other words, nervousness keeps them stay away from speaking in public.

Personally, I have also undergone the feeling of nervousness in my pursuit of excellence in public speaking. Even though I have a number of experiences giving speech to a group of people, I still feel nervous whenever I am on the stage. I just know how to manage my nervousness well.

How to manage nervousness

If you have some time, please read this detailed article: How to kill your nervousness in public speaking.

But, if you don’t, you should do as the follows:

a. Mentally remind yourself that public speaking can’t kill you.

b. Learn to get accustomed in looking to people’s eyes.

c. Start talking to people while standing whether in formal or informal settings.

2. Voice projection

Personally, I strongly believe that voice is the most important feature in public speaking. A speaker’s ability to properly project their voice well is crucially important in speech delivery.

Great public speakers, in my experience, are people who speak loudly and clearly enough that can be distinctly heard by people listening to them. The voice should not be too loud as it annoys the audience and too low as it makes the audience sleep.

When it comes to voice projection, there are many things to consider such as the using of tone and etc. Usually, a speaker is recommended not to use one tone for the whole speech because it simply makes the speech boring and less emotional. If possible, the speaker should use different tones for different plots. If the plot is about something sad, the tone must be in accordance to the story; it’d better be soft and slow.

How to project voice properly

You can try the following tips:

a. Practice talking to people standing or sitting 2-5 meters away from you. Try to get them understand everything you say. This helps you to talk better with a big group of people.

b. Practice talking to people standing or sitting 0.5-1 meter away from you. Try to get them understand everything you say. This helps you to talk better with a small group of people.

c. Listen to expert story tellers and learn how they use their tone in different parts of the story. Practice narrating story using different tones.

3. Eye contact

Eye contact is usually used by professional public speakers to attract the audience attention. In general, an audience participant focuses on listening to the speaker only when they realize that the speaker speaks to them or that the speaker pays attention to them. How does the participant know that? My experience has taught me that eye contact is the means of such knowledge.

Maintaining a natural and good eye contact with audience is crucially important because it somehow determines the degree of attention the audience members give to us the speakers. Personally, I almost always maintain a close eye contact with the people who listen to me and those who seem not to be focusing on my speech. I don’t have to say their name or point to them to listen to me because my eye contact says it all. Isn’t that cool?

Initially, I was so scared at looking into people’s eyes. I remember I took my glasses off during a classroom presentation because I was not able to undergo the overwhelming pressure of the 20-plus pairs of eyes looking at me. However, thanks to the countless speech delivery practices that I have done for years, I today don’t feel the pressure anymore every time I am on the stage. I just feel at ease.

How to develop powerful eye contact

You can try the following tips:

a. Practice looking into your eyes in the mirror and maintaining the contact for some time (two or three minutes) every day.

b. Practice looking into people’s eyes when you are in conversation in them. I know it’s difficult especially if you come from any country like Cambodia whose societal culture doesn’t promote people looking straight into other people’s eyes. You can start with people that you know well before strangers.

4. Body language

Body language is also one of the most essential elements in speech delivery. Effective use of body language makes the speech lively and active while ineffective use of body language could pose great threat or embarrassment to the audience members. For example, the use of middle finger in North America is offensive. The showing of folding fist could mean either anger or power.

Body language is a bit complicated if one wants to be perfect in it. Yet, it’s worthwhile to learn to use it effectively or perfectly if possible because it’s generally believed that body language conveys much more message than words and tones in any communication scenario. For example, yawning means being sleepy or feeling bored even though the person who yawns tries to say that he is not sleepy or bored.

The use of body language could include such as winking the eyes, using facial expressions, using of hands or legs, posing or standing, and etc. Basically, any movement of the body can be considered as body language.

How to develop powerful body language

You can try the following tips:

a. Strongly believe that use of body language in speech delivery is not crazy or silly. It’s what you are supposed to do and do well if possible.

b. Study the culture in which you are about to deliver your speech. There must be some gestures or body signs considered appropriate or inappropriate. Study them well so as not to offend your audience.

c. Practice using wide and clear body language. Use your hands widely. When you are on the stage, you shouldn’t fold your hands together. Instead use them widely so that your audience can see what you are trying to convey to them.

5. Practice

“Best practices give best results,” said Mr. Somboon Mongkol Sambath, one of the most experienced Toastmasters members with whom I associated during my time in Toastmasters Club. I heard the saying quite early in my pursuit of excellence in public speaking skills, and it has always become my only philosophy in speech delivery and public speaking.

There might be born great public speakers, but the number of these people is so few. Yet, there are so many great trained public speakers. The late Steve Jobs could be one of the examples. Before he passed away, he was considered one of the world’s most powerful public speakers even though he was not born to be a public speaker. During his initial show-ups on the stage or via media, he was quoted as nervous and shaky delivering his speeches.

Like Steve Jobs, I am not a gifted or born public speaker. I spent around 6 years to get trainings on how to effectively deliver speeches. I joined IFL Debate Club and Toastmasters Club. Plus, I have rarely if not never rejected the opportunities to improve my public speaking ability. I even volunteer for the chance to talk in front of people on any topic.

So, if you want to become a powerful and successful public speaker too, you should have this practice mindset. Sharpen your public speaking skills with practices, as many as possible.

How to develop powerful practices

You can try the following tips:

a. Prepare what you are going to talk. Put it in writing in brainstorming or complete form.

b. Rehearse your speech as many as possible before you get on the stage. You can do it in front of pretending audience if you can find. This helps build up your confidence.

c. Practice with a partner that has similar mindset to you.

d. Get constructive feedback from people who listen to your speech after each of your practices.

e. Video-tape your speech. Believe me when I say that you will learn more if you witness your own strengths and/or weaknesses.

What You Will Learn From Public Speaking Training

Public speaking training are what we can call the best options for those who want to learn how to succeed in their careers but have to face and talk to people, but are afraid to. With the training, you will learn the abilities not only how to speak effectively in public, but also how to communicate well to different kinds of people regardless of the setting. Corporate leaders are good examples of public speakers. They do address large number of people that are usually their employees and business partners and yet they can also talk to people who are recognized to be the best in the industries they are working in.

Within the public speaking training are special classes. In these classes you are required to do your work and also your homework. So just to be able to become an expert in speaking in public, you should know your goals to help you decide which part of the training you want to focus on and specialize.

The following are the things public speaking training can empower you.

  • Overcoming your fear in speaking to the public. This is the number one factor why it is so hard to become an effective public speaker. With regular public speaking classes, you will be taught how to overcome this form of anxiety.
  • Learning the quickest and best methods in creating your effective presentation with different scenario. You will be equipped with knowledge on how to produce presentations for different audiences and for various scenarios.
  • Learning to be more concise and how to build your power of persuasion. Learning to be an effective public speaker is not only about earning the knowledge on how to deliver or convey your messages well but also how you can convince your audiences on the things that you want to express.
  • Enhancing your speech deliveries by doing hands-on practices during public speaking classes. In this manner, you will learn how to design your speech and delivering presentations along with your group. Your group may also serve as your audience to help you get through your anxieties and obtain constructive criticisms.
  • Teaching you how to use your voice effectively. Sometimes it is the tone of your voice and the way how you pronounce every word that can convey your messages effectively and this you will learn from public speaking training.
  • Learning how you can convince people with your eyes and convey your message with your body language during your speech delivery. Your eyes and body movements are powerful message conveyors that can generally influence audiences.
  • Gaining confidence on stage. Confidence is weapons that can make your audiences sense you have the authority to reach out to them. If you have the confidence, you have the power to be in control. If you don’t have it, your audience will also feel that you are not ready to take the lead.
  • Learning how you can organize your thoughts instantly. You will learn the basic knowledge on how to enhance the flow of logic into your brain and delivering interesting messages instantaneously that the audience can be able to listen and build curiosity in whatever things you say.
  • Learning how to maintain your poise, coolness and judgment in times of stress are also some of the things you will learn from public speaking classes. You need to be good in these aspects because questions will usually be directed to you regarding your topics so you need to be armed, cool and have a clear mind all the time.

Learning all these from the training in public speaking can help you succeed not only in your career but also gaining your self-confidence which can result in enhancing your personality, relationship with other people and building you a clearer perspective in life. Unfortunately not all people do have the luxury of time in attending public speaking classes or training especially the working people. Therefore, the best way to gain the knowledge in the art of public speaking is hiring a coach or a speech coach for personal speech training purposes.

A speech coach can pinpoint to you what you need to enhance, develop, and eliminate in order for you to become better in speaking in public. He or she can be able to identify which aspect in the way you speak you must improve to make you an expert public speaker. Another advantage of having a speech coach is that he or she can always adapt to your preferred time.

There is now online public speaking training which your speech coach can be able put you in and do one-on-one coaching. And with the use of the technology, this now becomes easy. However, you pay by the hour or by the project if you hire a speech coach. On the other hand, there are more things that you can gain in attending public speaking classes that a speech coach can’t be able to provide and this is practicing with live audience which your classmates or group can help you with.