Podcast: Perfectionism and the Fear of Public Speaking

Public Speaking Super Powers Podcast: Season 4, Episode 1

Perfectionism can stop you from getting started in public speaking. But it can do way more than that, as well. In this episode of the Public Speaking Super Powers Podcast, I’m going to talk about perfectionism and how it breeds the fear of public speaking.

Perfectionism and the Fear of Public Speaking

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Podcast Transcript

Length: 5 minutes, 22 seconds

The desire to be perfect, to not make a mistake, can increase the fear of public speaking. You’ve hear it before, the often-quoted statistic that basically says people are, in general, more afraid of public speaking than dying.
I believe this is, in part, due to the belief that when you speak in front of a group of people, you can be horribly humiliated by making a mistake.

I submit to you that this perspective is, itself, a bad mistake.

Food for thought: First, in general, your audience is rooting for you. If you make a mistake, they feel bad for you. They are not looking to cut you down. So, just accept that you made a mistake and move on with grace. Your audience will go with you.

Second, unless your mistake brings about the fall of civilization as we know it, a blooper on the stage isn’t the end of the world. Get over it.

And finally, as Seymour Segnit, Founder and President of CTRN, once said, “the anxious energy that often goes into trying to make something absolutely perfect is totally counterproductive.”

In other words, the more you attempt to be perfect, the more you are likely to make a mistake. Here’s the thing: Good public speakers make mistakes and then they move on.

I’ve seen speakers who’ve had to deal with broken shoes, technical difficulties and even words not coming to mind. It happens. Each of these speakers acknowledges the blunder – if necessary and usually with humor – and then move on. They don’t bring undue attention to the goof and they don’t let it derail them from their message.

Segnit continues: “If you look at the very best speakers out there, those with the most powerful stage presence – say Barack Obama or Tony Robbins – they make mistakes, and they make them all the time – but it makes no difference to their momentum and their message.”

In other words, if Tony Robbins can survive a blooper, you can too.

The trick now becomes, how do you reduce your fear so that you’ll make fewer mistakes? For one, leave perfectionism at the door. Now, I’ve discussed perfectionism quite a bit over on my CarmaSpence.com blog, so I’ll leave some links in the show notes. But, as promised, here are three quick tips for combatting perfectionism.

  1. And this is the most common piece of advice. In fact, I’ve already mentioned it in this episode: Allow yourself to be wrong in front of others. Making mistakes is how we learn, so if you keep stopping yourself from the possibility of making an error, then you are also stopping yourself from growth.
  2. Get realistic. Are those mistakes you’re afraid of making really all that bad? Are you aiming too high for where you are on your learning curve right now? Don’t expect to be just like Feature Speaker Patricia Fripp your first … second … or even third time out. It takes time to become a seasoned speaker and you won’t get there if you let your desire to be perfect stops you from the taking the opportunities that will season you.
  3. Practice failing. I know this sounds strange, but it can really work. Practice making a mistake and recovering from it. That way, if you happen to make a mistake when the stakes are real, you’ll already be prepared to handle it. In other words, develop and practice your Plan B.

I hope you found value in this episode of The Public Speaking Super Powers Podcast. If so please give the podcast a thumbs up or stop by publicspeakingsuperpowers.com for more information about public speaking.

About the Public Speaking Super Powers Podcast Series

Someone holding a copy of Public Speaking Super Powers
The Public Speaking Super Powers Podcast shares information to empower you to be a better speaker and communicator. Carma Spence, the host of the show, shares her insights and knowledge on the topic, as well as interviews subject matter experts. The podcast is available in audio format on iTunes and beyond. New episodes are posted on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month.

Is there a topic you’d like covered on the podcast? Would you like to ask a question about Public Speaking on the show? Send your suggestions and questions to charlies@dragonwyze.com and mention that it is for the PSSP podcast.

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About the author

Carma Spence, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Superpowers and turning their knowledge and interests into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her website is CarmaSpence.com.

1 comment on “Podcast: Perfectionism and the Fear of Public Speaking”

  1. raymond g. comeau

    Carma, ALWAYS a pleasure to listen to you whatever your post is about. In the near future, I WILL be speaking to my audience. The style I will need will be unlike any other I’ve seen on YouTube, TEDX or other stages. Do I need to be so different? Book title: “What Bad We Do” suggests just what it implies. My writing comes from a “CALLING” which has shown me a path over the past 2 years. It has been the last few months I’ve seen “how” to speak my idea to an audience that will capture their heart and SOUL. Within the next 2 weeks, I’ll be making a speaker video to show those who are interested in what I have to say. I will send you the link when it is completed. My website: OurSoulsDirection.com Thank you for all of the words you put together so well. Ray

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