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.
Would You Really Rather Be Dead Than Do Public Speaking?
By Guest Expert Felicia Slattery
Those words are enough to strike fear in the hearts of many an otherwise brave soul. In my college classroom teaching public speaking, and later in my business working with business professionals to develop their speaking and businesses, I’ve witnessed strong, powerful people reduced to a bundle of nerves, nearly unable to put a sentence together because of public speaking anxiety.
The not-so-secret is: Anyone can get over public speaking anxiety and anyone can become an amazing speaker. You see, speaking is a skill, not an inborn trait like the color of your eyes, or someone with perfect pitch. Think of speaking like driving a car: everyone is nervous and shaky at first, and no one is “naturally” any good at driving. But with classes, practice, and experience everyone can become a safe, competent driver who never feels nervous behind the wheel.
You may have heard speaking is the number one fear of most people, even above death. That’s flat out not true. (It’s the most commonly shared fear, but most people fear all kinds of other things above speaking.) Yet regardless of the statistics, if you’re feeling fear about speaking, the good news is you can change that starting right now. Here are 3 practical ways to get over your fear and start speaking to advance your career or business:
1. Stop Hiding.
Psychologists will tell you the best way to get over something is to do it. It’s called “exposure therapy.” Do you want to get over your fear of public speaking? Speak in front of people as often as possible. Stop hiding behind your desk or computer and look for opportunities to do presentations and talks. It could be at work leading a meeting, at church doing a reading or teaching a lesson, in your community standing up for a cause you believe in at the next council meeting, or anywhere.
2. Prepare and Practice the Right Way.
When you are ready, know what you want to say, and how you want to say it and have rehearsed your talk out loud standing up, you will feel much calmer and in control when you do stand up in front of a room full of people. Don’t just practice in your head. Get your butt up out of the chair, stand in front of a mirror – or better yet record yourself on your smartphone and watch it, and deliver your whole speech with feeling from beginning to end as if you were really doing it live. The way you rehearse is the way you will perform, so get into it.
3. Don’t Go It Alone.
The best way to fail anything is to do it in a vacuum, all by yourself. Just like it would be foolhardy for a 16-year-old to watch a few YouTube videos and think that’s enough training to drive a car, you don’t want the blind leading the blind in public speaking. Seek someone out who is a speech coach, a professional speaker, or even a person who has spoken in front of audiences for years so you can get feedback from them on your talk. Watching videos is great, but there is no substitute for getting honest, constructive criticism so you know what and how to improve.
The fact remains that public speaking is the most critical professional skill you can develop to be a leader, advance your career, advocate for causes important to you, and make more money. Today is your day to decide if you are going to let your fear of public speaking hold you back or use speaking as a tool to propel you into your next level of greatness and achievement.
If you would like more help getting started speaking, visit HowToGetStartedSpeaking.com and pick up the free gifts today.
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About Felicia Slattery
Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed., is a #1 best-selling author of six books, an internationally acclaimed, award-winning speaker, and radio show host with happy subscribers, clients, and customers in 81 countries around the world. Featured in Success Magazine, Inc. Magazine, on the BBC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, and CNN, Felicia Slattery has encouraged, educated, and inspired millions online and offline to help them connect with people on a human level, build relationships, be better and more profitable speakers, and enjoy more effective communication. As a cancer survivor, Felicia’s enthusiastic passion for communication is contagious because she knows that one important message delivered with power can transform a life. Learn more about Felicia at FeliciaSlattery.com.
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Does Speaking Make You Nervous?
Discover 13 practices that will help alleviate your presentation fears and anxiety.
Inside You’ll Learn:
- Five ways to reduce anxiety before your audience arrives.
- Four practices to reduce anxiety as your audience arrives.
- Four things you can do to calm down right before stepping up to the platform.