Worst Fears? Public Speaking in Top 5!
Maybe you’ve heard of the new study from Chapman University on Americans’ worst fears. Turns out, it’s not just walking alone or a natural disaster. Public speaking ranks in the top five! What is it about speaking in public that literally scares people? Most of us are afraid we’ll mess up somehow and be judged a failure. In my many years as a news anchor, keynote speaker and emcee, I’ve had my share of missteps. And initially, I, too, was uncomfortable speaking in public. Luckily, a lot of practice and training has led to a love of speaking to an audience. And I’ve learned a few things that you can do to overcome your fear of speaking in public, and presenting yourself in the best possible way.
Do any of these describe you, and your thoughts about making a big presentation?
- “I just want to get through it.”
- “I’ll just read my speech.”
- “The faster I talk, the faster I’ll be done with it.”
- “If I don’t look up, I won’t see all those people looking at me.”
- “So what if I didn’t get the promotion? At least I didn’t have to give a speech.”
One of the things scientists know about the way the brain works, if we’re afraid or sense danger, the amygdala is triggered, and we move into the ‘fight or flight’ mode. When our amygdala is hijacked like this, we have limited responses and this is all we can think about. Believe me – this is not going to lead to a smooth presentation. In my executive coaching practice, I work with leaders to acknowledge this fear, find out what it really is they’re worried about, help them understand they’re NOT in danger, and then move forward with training and practice to develop a confident approach.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post on Michael Bay, and a disastrous presentation in Las Vegas. You’ll find some tips there to improve your speaking in public.