5 Reasons why public speaking feels scary

Oct 15, 2021Anxiety, Business Matters, Other

5 Reasons why public speaking feels scary


Public speaking is something many people dread but it doesn’t need to be that way.

But it can’t be a skill that can be ignored as you may be in a job that requires it, you may have something important to say or you may be expected to do it at something like your daughter’s wedding.

Public speaking is important as it helps us to show that we are knowledgeable, helps us to connect with others and can motivate others to learn and change.

For many people, public speaking will result in increasing sales as you develop a relationship and provide information for customers.

Other people use public speaking to provide information or send a message. It could be a way of promoting yourself as well as your business.

But really it’s just about communication.

Yet for many people, public speaking feels difficult.

Here are 5 reasons why public speaking feels difficult.

1. You are feeling stressed or anxious

Anxiety is about us responding to a threat or pressure.

You may not know where these anxious feelings have come from.

It could be related to feeling not good enough.

Often its comes from a worry that people are looking at you and judging you.

Maybe you have had a bad experience of public speaking before or maybe you have developed a learned behaviour by watching and listening to other people who have feared public speaking.

Anxiety is recognised by negative thoughts, emotions and physical feelings. For example, thoughts that you don’t know enough, or feelings of a lack of confidence and self-worth.

Physical feelings include sweaty hands, feeling sick, dry mouth, blushing or wanting to go to the toilet.

Public speaking can set off a fear response.

Negative thoughts add to the feelings.

Avoidance makes it worse.

One way to help reduce anxiety is to prepare well and on the day do some deep breathing.

2. You are not prepared

The first step in being prepared is about knowing the subject and what you need to talk about.

Preparation needs both mental preparation and physical preparation.

Mentally you need to reduce other stresses and as with all mental health ensure that you eat a well-balanced diet and do some exercise. You can also talk it through with a trusted friend or imagine your successful speech.

If you hear yourself saying negative things, say stop it! And try to tell yourself something positive about the situation. For example, you could tell yourself that you do know something or else people wouldn’t listen to you.

Mentally you may also need a practice run in your head or for real.

Preparing may also mean blocking out time in your diary to prepare a speech or presentation.

Preparation is also about checking that the room is right for you and that any equipment required is booked and is available.

3. You haven’t practised

It’s like many things, if you practice it becomes easier because it can become automatic.

If you are a driver, think about driving a car. That was difficult at one time but you practised and thought a lot about it and probably got help from a driving instructor or friend. You knew what you had to do and you did it.

It’s the same for public speaking.

You need to know why and what you will talk about.

You also need to know who will be your audience. For example, if you were talking at a wedding you would know who you were talking about. Sometimes in this speech humour is included. You know your role.

But if you were speaking at a works presentation and needed to convince your employees of a new way of working then your speech would include things like the facts and the benefits of change.

So different types of public speaking need different approaches and they need practice beforehand.

4. You haven’t got the right mindset

The mindset was described by Carol  Dweck as fixed or a growth mindset. In her book The Psychology of Success, she explains how we use our conscious and unconscious beliefs to help or hinder us in our learning and development.

In her research, she explored how people thought about their personalities and intelligence.

People can move between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

So if you don’t want to give a talk it will feel harder because you have a fixed mindset. If its part of your job though you might still need to do the basics so you need to have thoughts of growth and learning.

5. You need help and support

As with all tasks, there are techniques and easy ways of doing things.

Perhaps you need a mentor. Or maybe you just need to talk about the process or even practice it with someone else.

There are lots of speaking organisations that can help like Toastmasters.

If you want a combination of help with your fears, ways to feel more confident and some of the practical tips that will help, Linda from Awaken the Change can provide a unique package. Find out more by visiting www.awakenthechange.com and by contacting Linda.

Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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