Like most pubic speaking consultants, I usually hammer all the reasons a person should not be afraid of presenting. However, the more coaching I do, the more I realize the fear is legit. People should be afraid of getting in front of a group.
While there is a lot to gain from speaking publicly, there is also a lot to lose. Here are seven reasons to be scared…
Number One: No skill.
Would you want someone repairing your car that knows nothing about mechanics? The average speaker receives no training, takes no classes, and doesn’t read one book on presenting. He or she expects to do an adequate job with no experience.
Number Two: Not Fearing Death
The OLD adage is that public speaking is the #1 fear. If you would RATHER die than speak, then you don’t need to be speaking. Period.
If you spillover Niagara Falls walking a tightrope, you’re going to die and it will all be over. When speaking you won’t die. You’ll live to face the embarrassment, the whispers, and the snickers. But you’ll still be alive. If you look forward to a Niagara, yet look away from speaking then put on your swim trunks and stay away from the podium.
Number Three: Failing to Organize.
One of my services is critiquing the outlines of speakers. On average the format and structure is elementary at best and confusing at worse. It’s as if the speaker’s brain spewed out on a sheet of paper and left it at that. Organizing does not take long, nor is it difficult, but only a handful do it successfully. Without a proper outline the fear is understandable.
Number Four: Confusing Writing and Speaking
Writing is formal. People rarely forgive errors in spelling and grammar. From this article I’ll get several people attempting to correct me. However, there is room for error when speaking. The ears are very forgiving and the brain is sharp enough to fill in the blanks.
Speakers get tripped up when they try to talk like they write. They become more academic and antiseptic and who wants to listen to someone like that. How many college professors did you find hypnotizing? Do you remind yourself of a monotone bore? Frightening, yes?
Number Five: Trying to Survive.
“I just want to get through the speech and get it over with.” If that is your attitude then be afraid. Chances are extremely high that you will not do well. “Survival” causes you to do and say things you wouldn’t without the duress.
Number Six: Lack of Commitment
This ties into the first point. The majority of speakers do a single presentation and that’s it. No problem. A book can help them. On the other hand, there are thousands of monthly, or even daily presenters who fail to make marked improvement. Why? No commitment.
You can’t take one class and do brain surgery. You can’t attend one seminar and suddenly become a tax expert. The same with speaking. One book, class, or course will not create excellence. To become the best you have to commit yourself to long term achievement.
Number Seven: The Freeze Factor
Chances are high that you will forget something and freeze during your speech. Unless you know how to play it off, or use the moment, you will look uncomfortable, or even stupid. People will talk about it afterwards. They will mention how they felt sorry for you.
It seems that folks are always looking for ways to be afraid. Well, you just got seven reasons. The question is: What are you going to do about it?