Speaking Is Like Riding a Bike
(Day 24, Speaking Palooza 2019)

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July is Freedom from Fear of Speaking Month and to celebrate, I’ve invited a team of speaking experts to share their best tips and tricks for improving your speaking skills and overcoming speaking anxiety.

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Speaking Is Like Riding a Bike

By Guest Expert Mikael Hugg

I used to be shy.

In fact, I was so shy that I had serious trouble making friends. I always dreamed that I could just go and talk to people like my friends did, but every time I had an opportunity to do so, it gave me butterflies and I broke into a cold sweat.

I was experiencing speaking anxiety.

Speaking Is Like Riding a Bike

This kind of lifestyle lasted more than 15 years until I moved to another country. There I realized that in order to survive, I had to learn how to speak to strangers. This kicked off a journey that led me to where I am today.

Nowadays, I am a keynote speaker who has talked to thousands of people, written a book about how to crush the fear of public speaking, and helped people to overcome their fear of speaking.

The number one reason why people tend to have speaking anxiety is the lack of repetition. Most of the people don’t talk to an audience on a daily basis. So, when the time comes to talk to a bunch of strangers (or colleagues), your palms start to sweat and you begin to lose your words. Public speaking is just like learning how to ride a bike. You need to practice and practice until it starts to feel natural.

Another reason for speaking anxiety is your tendency to underestimate what you have to say. Am I enough of an expert to educate others about my topic? This is called the Imposter Syndrome and it happens to experts a lot. The speaker may start to think that since she knows the key points of her field so well, it is nothing new to anyone else, either. But the thing is that in this world there are always people who know more than you do and people who know less than you. Those who know less are the ones your talk should be directed at. And when you’ve been invited to give a speech, you can be certain that the things you are about to share will be new to your audience.

The world we are living in today is a world where mastering your speaking skill is highly beneficial. For people who want to become better speakers but who are insecure (for whatever reason), I want to say this – don’t seek to deliver a perfect, flawless speech, but a personal one. Just like with music, there are endless ways to make good music. Some have a high pitch, some low. Some have accents, some pronounce words funny. Arnold Schwarzenegger is far away from the “perfect” model of how to produce words, yet he is an excellent speaker.

What I’m saying is that if you want to become a public speaker, you can. Anxiety issues are psychological and learned, so you can also unlearn them. Find your niche, write down your one key idea worth sharing, and practice. First rounds will be plain horrible, but you also didn’t learn to ride a bike without falling, did you?

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About Mikael Hugg

Mikael HuggMikael Hugg is a turbocharged sales and marketing millennial, M.Sc. (Business & Economics), inspiring keynote speaker, startupper, millennial leadership expert, and serial learner, who wrote a book in 10 days, and learned how to build a motorcycle in 5 days. In addition, he has been a Millennial Advisor for several international C-level execs. and also decorated with a lifesaving medal.

Whatever he does, he does it with passion, which reflects from his speeches, as well. His enthusiastic and inspiring speeches are highly motivational. Mikael is one of the first Finnish millennial speakers, who can shed light on how millennials and gen-z see the world. His talks grab the audience to a journey where leaders and managers can ponder on how they see millennials and gen-z as employees and future talents.

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About the author

This post is part of Speaking Palooza. Created by Carma Spence, author of the award-winning, bestselling book Public Speaking Super Powers, it is a month-long event bringing together a wide variety of speaking experts from throughout the English-speaking world to help you overcome the fear of speaking and become a better speaker.

Please see the "About" section above for more information about today's featured expert.