You’re in charge of a big project.

The boss comes into your office and says those awful, terrifying words that make you want to hide under your desk:

“I need you to present to the board.”

Auuuuuuuggggghh!

Lucy has just pulled the ball away from you, Charlie Brown. You’re on your back, staring at the clouds and wondering, “Why me?”

Fear not, my friends. You, too, can have the confidence to knock this presentation out of the ballpark.

Glossophobia and you

Standing in front of a crowd, telling my stories, helping people with stress management, workplace and wellness and leadership?

That’s my jam. My high. My thrill.

Yet I know some of you would rather run in the opposite direction than get up on stage, microphone in hand.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. You don’t even have to be called upon to make a presentation to your superiors. This fear can manifest during:

  • Job interviews
  • Medical College Admission Test
  • Oral exams or presenting a thesis
  • Media interviews
  • Sales pitches
  • A wedding ceremony … from saying your vows to giving the groomsman’s speech at the reception
  • In class when a teacher calls upon you to answer a question
  • Award acceptance speeches

People from all walks of life have sought my services: lawyers making their cases in court, athlete ambassadors and pageant contestants who need to interact with the public, social workers, politicians and even folks who just need help coming out of their shells for networking events.

According to a 2001 Gallup poll cited in Time, more than 40 percent of us fear public speaking.

Some psychologists rate it as the No. 1 fear in North America, so common that more people suffer from it than a fear of death!

I believe the fear is rooted in another fear … of screwing up and sounding stupid. But here’s the secret that I’ve learned over these last 20 years of presenting and public speaking:

The audience wants you to succeed.

Yes, it is that simple. The people in your audience want to hear your stories, they want to learn from you and they want you to be authentic.

(I’ve also sat in enough audiences to know that people are smart enough to recognize a faker, too!)

So, it’s OK to be nervous.

Getting beyond the nerves

I love passing along my knowledge, so I offer training sessions for speaking and presentation skills.

The two-day sessions are filled with experiential learning. We work together — as a group — to overcome each person’s obstacle to public speaking, to provide positive feedback and to support each other on this journey.

So many people come to the training absolutely terrified of opening their mouths. By the end of training, they feel comfortable enough to stand and deliver that presentation or interview.

Here are a few handy tips:

1. Be yourself.

Who else can you be? When we are fully present in the moment and show up as ourselves, our audience appreciates the authenticity.

2. Tell a story

People want to hear about your experiences, your moments of learning. Telling your own story can help quell the nerves, too. You know your story best and that can lead to a comfort level.

3. Speak from your heart

Sure, you can make notes, but don’t use them for your presentation. Make a few key messages and weave your story around them. You’ll seem more at ease when you aren’t rifling through pages of notes. And for the love of all that’s holy … DO NOT read your PowerPoint slides.

4. Practise by reading out loud

Yes, practise your presentation but also practise reading anything and everything out loud to get comfortable with the sound of your voice. One client reads to his kids every night. He has since found confidence in his voice and feels good about others hearing it. (And imagine how rewarding it is for his kids!)

The power to be you

The fear of public speaking ties into personal development and my three Cs.

We need:

Clarity on what we want to achieve in public speaking

So we can:

Change our approach

And:

Catapult into success.

Our training sessions are a safe place to practise and get immediate, positive feedback. We only reinforce what you’re doing well. Heck, you’re already beating yourself up enough; you don’t need anyone else bringing negative talk into your world.

We also spend some time on negative self-talk and teaching you to be more kind to you, banishing the harsh criticism that so many of us heap upon ourselves.

I get to see profound changes in people, mind-blowing changes that make me feel immensely proud to pass on my skill.

It’s one of the most rewarding things I do, watching people come out of their shells.

They find their voice and, in the process, find more of themselves.

I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in stress management, health and wellness, personal growth and life balance. Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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