Public Speaking – the fear monster

Public speaking – the mere mention of the word makes a number of us break out in a cold sweat.
According to most articles, public speaking is #1 fear of people in America. Check out this headline – America’s top fears: Public speaking, heights and bugs. Death is AFTER public speaking! I’ve heard this before but it is still mind boggling. I use to be one of those people. Ok, confession time – Sometimes, I still have this fear. It just depends on the circumstance. So why would people rather do just about anything including dying than have to get up in a group of people and simply speak. Why are we so afraid do something most of us do everyday since we were the age of of at least 2. Well, I’ve done a lot of research on the topic but I won’t bore you with all of my findings. I’m sure a simple search on any search engine will give you a plethora of hypotheses and theories. It may seem unnecessary to know why but I do believe it’s worth exploring for yourself. So I’ve done my own work. I want to better a public speaker and not have so much anxiety about it. I do have to admit that it kind of pisses me off that it’s sooooo important to people. People are put on a pedestal if they have this skill. They are admired in many ways, fairly and unfairly for it. So why does this bother me? It bothers me because there are plenty of folks who are smart with knowledge and special skills to share and offer the world who are not good great orators or simply don’t have the desire to speak in front of a group. I admit that is definitely my own issue to tackle. While working on my issue I explored my aversion and dove into my experiences when speaking in front of groups. As I mentioned before, there is plenty of information about public speaking and I know I’m not the first person to write about it and I don’t think that I’m an expert in any way. I’m hoping my journey will help me to clarify how I can continue to improve my public speaking and inspire someone else to take their own journey.

So here is the main thing I discovered, I want to be able to communicate clearly while being authentically myself, connect with my audience, and most importantly not perform. When it comes to public speaking, I think it’s essential to know what kind of speaker you want to be as well is why. What do I mean by the kind of speaker? Why is important to know why you want to be a speaker? Purpose and definitions are always important IMHO. This will help guide you and give a solid foundation. My goal is to have this be apart of my life instead of just learning some hacky public speaking techniques like the infamous picturing strangers naked while you speak. On a side note, the origin story of this advice is quite interesting. I won’t spoil it. Take a look at Richard’s, an ACS Toastmaster, blog post about it. He also has written slew of article about public speaking that could be helpful. (Although, it just might be fun to picture naked folks staring at you or maybe not… 😉 ).

Next time I will explore my past experiences and why I use to avoid public speaking like the plague.

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