Many people dread the idea of public speaking and yet an increasing number of jobs now require this skill. You are certainly not alone if the thought of speaking in front of other people sends shivers down your spine. With 25% of the population sharing your fear, this phobia is the most common phobia of all and is known medically as glossophobia which is the Greek phrase meaning ‘anxiety of speaking’.
A good public speaker has the skills to accurately plan, organise and deliver a really effective presentation to an audience – whatever the size. They can communicate powerfully and perform equally in front of a large audience as well as they can on a one-to-one basis. They can deliver their message effectively, charismatically and persuasively and in doing so they strengthen their company’s brand, customer loyalty, which in turn boosts sales.
Many employers look on an ability to speak well in public as a huge attribute and one that in certain fields is becoming a necessity. If you are ambitious and want to do well professionally, being able to confidently speak in public will certainly be seen as a great asset and for this reason, you should be keen to successfully overcome your fear of public speaking.
There are actually different verticals of public speaking which is why it is such a common requirement in many career streams. The four types are; ceremonial, demonstrative, informative and persuasive and if you can speak well in any of these styles it will definitely help you grow professionally – and you will reap benefits in your personal life too.
Types of Public Speaking
Ceremonial speaking is the type of public speaking that you will not use quite so often in the corporate world as it is mainly used for big family events such as graduations, weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals. Having said that, there may well be the opportunity to use this more relaxed and emotional style for a work colleague’s birthday or retirement or on the occasion of a company anniversary.
Demonstrative public speaking is a mixture of speaking and physical action demonstrating a product or a service. The speaker must demonstrate their thorough knowledge throughout and of course their confidence in the subject. The third form of public speaking is informative. The speaker must clearly explain an idea or concept but does not have to get his audience to agree or disagree with him. The final form of public speaking is persuasive and this is the much-loved style of politicians, solicitors and members of the church! Usually, the language used is more forceful and contains nuances that will persuade the audience to think in a certain way. With this style of speech, the speaker is very keen to achieve a certain outcome!
Many people find that the idea of public speaking fills them with dread and this can usually be traced back to childhood memories of having to stand up and read in front of the class with the fear of ridicule. Many specialists, however, believe that this phobia has deep physiological roots and that standing in front of an audience triggers a rush of adrenalin and the ‘flight or fight’ response in many. Whilst even the most seasoned public speakers will admit to feeling nervous before they make their presentation, at the other end of the spectrum, some people are so terrified by the thought of the ordeal that they can suffer a full-blown panic attack.
For those who are lucky enough to only suffer mildly from anxiety, there are a number of ways to ease this. The best advice of all is to prepare your speech well in advance as this definitely leads to a better and more polished performance on the day. Many public speakers suggest visiting the venue beforehand and practising your speech there to check the acoustics and whether a microphone is required. Preparing a list of clear, concise bullet points on a prompt card works well too. Speakers are advised to speak at a slower speed than normal as most of us speak more quickly when nervous. Some seasoned speakers suggest starting a presentation with an amusing story as this relaxes the audience who are busy listening to the tale rather than focusing on the presenter! For other ideas and tips, there are a number of informative websites online.
If you feel that you could do with some professional help, the good news is that there are some excellent brief therapies available and these are provided by phobia treatment specialists with methods designed specifically to cure public speaking fear. It’s important to always work with a specialist therapist because they are more likely to have more experience of working with a phobia like yours. They fully appreciate the importance of speaking in the business world and for your career progression and they are both sympathetic and supportive throughout the course of treatment and many of their patients notice an improvement very quickly as they learn techniques that can be successfully used both in their professional and private lives. Treatment is very affordable too, costing just a few hundred pounds, which is money well spent as being an effective public speaker will definitely prove very beneficial in the progression of your chosen career.