They say that the brain begins working the moment that we are conceived, but quits working the moment we get up to speak in front of a group of people. Why are we so freaked out about communication? In this three part communication series, I will provide you with tips to overcome communication challenges in public speaking, business writing, and interpersonal communication.
So what is it about speaking in front of a group of people that creates such anxiety? Why is it that people fear public speaking over death? It’s true! More people fear death, second only to speaking in front of a crowd. The answer is pretty simple, really. People are afraid of being judged, looking stupid, and feeling like a failure. How can we overcome this? Practice, practice, practice.
With Toastmasters International, I often explain to those wanting to become more confident public speakers, that getting comfortable speaking in front of groups is like learning to drive a car. At first, we are afraid to lessen our death grip off of the steering wheel and we feel that we are unprepared for the highway. Over time, we loosen our grip and become confident in our abilities to travel any road. Public speaking can progress like our driving journey, but it takes practice.
When I got behind the wheel the first time in drivers education, I had never been behind the wheel of a car. I hadn’t sat on my parents lap or been given “parking lot” instructions by a family member. I remember worrying about maneuvering the big hunk of metal around other vehicles and braking without giving my instructor whiplash. The freeway was scary. There were so many other cars, and they all made it look so easy! Why did I feel so out of control? The reason was that it was new and I hadn’t worked at it yet.
After battling the dreaded uphill start in a stick shift, turning down a one-way street, and taking a corner much faster than I should have because I hit the gas instead of the brake, I began to become comfortable and confident in my new learned ability. Similarly, my journey in public speaking was much the same. It takes practice to become comfortable with all of the different speaking situations, especially in business.
Within the business environment, many find speaking in front of groups even more challenging than speaking at church, a club, or in any other group environment. Why is this? People fear looking dumb in front of their business associates. They don’t want their business colleagues to look down on them or question their ability to do their job. There are many ways to begin to overcome this fear.
First, this is not a paid promotion for Toastmasters, but at the same time, I’d like to say that Toastmasters International is an excellent way to get over the fear of public speaking. Toastmaster clubs provide an encouraging, growth environment, focused on helping people overcome their fear of public speaking. Toastmasters International has over 300,000 members in 126 countries and has a mission to “empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.” Famous Toastmasters include: motivational speaker- Les Brown, actor/comedian- Tim Allen, and author of “Think and Grow Rich”- Napoleon Hill, just to name a few. Toastmaster clubs provide an excellent way, often during your lunch hour, to grow your speaking confidence.
So what tricks can you begin to employ immediately to “get behind the wheel?” I’d like to propose the following tips:
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.