Are you glossophobic? Many of us are…

Mention the term 'public speaking' and there is a strong chance it will be accompanied by a discernible shudder, with many agreeing it is a frightening prospect. Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health survey in the US discovered that as many as 74% of us share this fear (75% women vs. 73% men).

It's easy to assume that a good public speaker is a product of nature, not nurture, but that's not the case. Of course, there are those that relish standing before peers but they're definitely in the minority.

However, public speaking is a skill that can most definitely be taught, whatever the degree of trepidation. I strongly believe it's a necessary tool in your armoury and crucial for effective communication and shaping opinion - hence my involvement in setting up the new office of Spoken Word Communications in the UK.

My many years' experience and training has taught me key areas to focus on and help captivate an audience. We can all relate to seeing presenters struggling to hold our attention on the podium and yearning for the last slide to appear before we can exit and hit the espresso machine. The work I do with clients is to help build their confidence, present a compelling story and ensure this 'dash out at the end' scenario is one they never have to experience.

Tip 1

Know your audience. Decide early on what three key takeaways you wish the audience to leave with. Don't present too much information but equally don't focus on just one point so boredom kicks in.

Tip 2

Always tell a story. Through the process of evolution, our brains are now wired to be engaged by compelling narrative rather than cold, hard facts. Numerous scientific research has proved this with a recent study by Nielsen showing that consumers demand a more personal connection in the way they gather information.

Tip 3

Consider body language. A good public speaker will consciously alter his/her tone of voice, use hand and arm movement selectively and command the podium in a positive and enthusiastic way, yet appear as natural as possible. The skill is in hiding the fact you've had the training - people appreciate a confident, not contrived stage presence.

And finally...

Above all, embrace the moment. The extent you incorporate presentation techniques, anticipate your audiences' needs and communicate your views in an informative and interesting way will be the difference between a communication opportunity won or lost.
Want to find out more? Visit our Media training page for more information.


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