Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The all-in-one on fear and public speaking: 15 resources

It's one of the most common fears, they tell us. So why are we so nervous about our public speaking fears? Use these tips from the blog, along with examples from some fellow fearful speakers, to think about your public speaking fears and overcome them:
  1. Take this jitters quiz from psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, which gets at your own perceptions of yourself as a nervous speaker and what that means.
  2. When the speaker needs to catch her breath looks at a common physical reaction to nervousness at the start of a talk. One of the most-read posts on the blog, this one is based on a smart reader question.
  3. Do you talk too much when you're nervous? That makes you look nervous. Try the tactics in Speakers: 7 reasons I want you to talk less to balance it out.
  4. Do you talk too fast when you're nervous? Take the time to figure out how to hit the brakes when you're a speedy speaker.
  5. Learn from some famously nervous women speakers:  Princess Diana used to giggle when she got nervous during a speech, but overcame that. Lady Bird Johnson prayed that she would not be her high school's valedictorian (and came in third in her class, avoiding a speech). Elle Group senior vice president Carol Smith made it a point to overcome her speaking fears. You also can listen in on two psychology experts analyzing their own public speaking fears and approaches. Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the top all-time political speakers, feared speaking and did it, anyway.
  6. Does being a newbie always mean you're nervous? First-time speaker Jennifer Cohen talks about leaving her planning to the last minute, due to nerves. Georgy Cohen says she "more or less felt like I was going to throw up" and offers a thoughtful look at how a shy speaker feels before high-pressure presentations. 
  7. It's your little secret:  Most audiences can't tell whether you're nervous, so when it comes to confidence, in public speaking you can fake it until you make it.
  8. Want to know whether you really look as nervous as you feel? It's one of my top reasons you should practice your presentation on video.
  9. Avoiding eye contact with your audience and swaying are two signs you may be more nervous than you are admitting to yourself. Find out how to secure your stance and your eye contact to look more confident.
  10. Understand what's behind your nervousness by getting a handle on your speaking self. Gender, personality preferences and other factors can play a role, and it makes sense to know them before you speak.
  11. "I'm not nervous when I speak, but..." is one of the phrases I hear most often from trainees. But really, it's okay to be nervous about public speaking. Here's why.
  12. Do you overprepare for speeches and presentations? It's another sign that you may be more anxious than you're admitting, and you can take steps to reduce the extra pressure that overpreparing brings.
  13. If your pre-speech anxiety is serious, you may have a social phobia. Find out more about how this is diagnosed and treated.
  14. Do you fear the Q&A? Some speakers fear the extemporaneous part of speaking, especially questions from the audience. I've got 17 reasons why you should welcome questions instead.
  15. "Visual aids scare me!" said one reader. Here's how to embrace visual presentations.

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