Why do people have a fear of public speaking?

There are many reasons why people have a fear of public speaking.

To which of the following can you relate?

Looking foolish

Looking foolish is a common reason why most people have a fear of public speaking and become anxious when required to speak to a group. Looking foolish or stupid in front of peers and important people can be a powerful inhibitor to speaking in public. Being humiliated can ruin your whole day and in an extreme can be very detrimental to a person's ego and confidence.

The next three points are considered contributors to “looking foolish”

Freezing or forgetting

Being afraid that their mind may go blank. This has a lot to do with seeing performance as most important in speaking other than communication. See below “It’s about Communication, not Performance”. Select the buttons [Speech Memory] or [Outline/Site Map] to find secrets to “Remembering your Speech” . It really is not as difficult as it seems – now that is a relief !

Lack of speaking skills

A feeling that a lack of speaking skills will lower the opinion that others have of them. In fact the opposite is often true – “having a go” would be looked up to when compared with others fear of public speaking.

We only improve by “having a go” and being involved. We can ALWAYS improve.

Making mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, even the professionals. What is important is how you handle the mistake. A small mistake can be ignored and you simply move on.

A larger mistake, can be acknowledged and treated with a little humor. “Woops, that’s an error, obviously my cue card is upside down.” “Apologies, my Mum did that research. Here are the real facts"

Giving a boring speech

The feeling that the words and thoughts within the speech are not interesting to the audience has been known to cause a fear of public speaking. There are definitely ways around this issue, in fact this whole site is about communicating well, and that means a great message. Stay with me on this one and as you move around the site, you will see how your words, structure, delivery all contribute to a greatttttt message.

Not feeling prepared

Yes, I often feel ill prepared, even when I have prepared well. There is no easy solution, except to complete as much as is possible. Life strains at us and tugs us away from preparation – we have to make our decisions here.

I have personally found that as much preparation as I can undertake has always stood me in good stead and the delivery was always fulfilling.

It is important to undertake as much preparation as is possible.
A definite fact I have found is that with preparation, there is a corresponding reduction in the fear of public speaking.

It’s about Communication, not Performance

A Performance orientated speaker is all about “getting it right”, “being polished” and correct – being this way is a journey in disappointment where the speech is usually memorised. So much time is spent in recalling the speech that communication and delivery suffers. The audience is there to evaluate the speaker, and so success is measured as a 'good performance'.

A Communication orientated speaker on the other hand assumes that the audience is curious about their message and wants to understand it. Minor mistakes are “tolerated”.

As a result of the audiences’ involvement in the message, success is measured through the listeners’ understanding of the message and the point-of-view.

So REDUCE your anxiety by ensuring your speech is about Communication and NOT performance.

"[Speaking Persuasively, McCarthy & Hatcher: 3]

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