The fear that is, Public Speaking.
No this isn't an undiscovered book by the late Sir Terry Pratchett, would that it were. Some of you may have come across a book of that title written by Andy Lopata and Peter Roper. It refers to a survey that was carried out a few years ago about how people in the US think about speaking in public.
Death came third in that survey
– Fear of Speaking in Public came FIRST!
You are not alone
If you think about it, this fear of being in the spotlight is natural.
When we lived in hunter-gatherer societies and even before then if you were a single individual in front of a group of people, the chances are that something bad would happen to you. In that situation, your fight or flight response would kick in and your body would prepare you to put up a good fight or run as fast as you could away from the situation.
When that happens, you experience these physical changes
The good news is that your body is responding properly to danger. This reaction is there to help protect us. Unfortunately, we also react in this way when we ‘think’ we are in a life-threatening situation. This is what happens with fear of speaking in public.
How you think can trigger the flight and fight response
Do you think
"It's going to be great"
“Oh no, I can’t do that what if I make a mistake?
Do you imagine
A crowd of faceless monsters
A group of smiling, interested people?
Perhaps you remember a time from the past when you were laughed at (at school maybe) or you did give a talk and forgot your words, then felt yourself blushing and then the laptop wouldn't work ....
Whatever the reason you feel worried, you fear rejection or you fear being humiliated when you think about getting up in front of others and talking.
The good news is you can change how you feel
You can learn to become more comfortable speaking in public. Whether that is to a small group or large group, whether that is in front of people you know or people you don’t. You can learn to be more relaxed and calm. To even, dare I say it, enjoy the experience.
There are various organisations you could join like The Association of Speakers Clubs or Toastmasters. They provide a safe and structured environment where you can learn and practice your public speaking skills. You can practice safely and receive helpful and constructive feedback. The more you speak in public the easier it gets. It does, honest!
You can practice and rehearse both physically and mentally. There are self-help audios and books too that you can use to help you.
16 simple steps to comfortable public speaking:
There are probably more aspects that I could mention but these are the main ones that will help you get the most out of speaking in public.
One last thing, almost everyone who is listening to you will have felt the same or worse than you do. As we know fear of death came third!