by Carma Spence, author of “Public Speaking Super Powers: Unleash Your Inner Speaking Superhero and Communicate Your Message with Confidence“
Approximately 27 million Americans suffer from a fear of public speaking. If you are one of them, you may be paid 10% less than those without this fear and your chances of getting into a professional or managerial position are reduced by 15%. If you’re in college, a fear of speaking can reduce your chances of graduating by 10%.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone has a speaking superhero within them, and when that superhero is unleashed, amazing things can happen.
1. Speaking Skills Improve Your Career Options.
People who can speak in front of a group of people effectively have more career options. They are more likely to get promotions and start new jobs with better salaries and benefits. Why? Because they are able to communicate their value clearly to those who need to know. They can apply for and perform better at jobs that require speaking skills, such as sales, training and management positions. And they are more likely to ask for promotions, raises, and new jobs.
2. Speaking Skills Improve Your Income.
If you are able to communicate your value, you will earn more money. You will do better in job interviews. You’ll be more likely to get promotions and raises. You’ll be better suited for managerial positions. And, if you are an entrepreneur or business owner, you will attract and book more clients, as well as sell more products and services.
3. Speaking Skills Improve Your Life.
When you can stand before a group and speak your message clearly and effectively, you will feel more confident about yourself. This confidence has a ripple effect throughout your life, beyond career and business. It can improve your social life, your relationships, your health and even your free time.
Research indicates that low self-esteem can make you test or sabotage relationships that have potential, or settle for relationships in which you are treated in a way that matches your beliefs about yourself. I know this from experience, as I am the survivor of not one, but three abusive relationships!
People with low self-esteem are more likely to suffer from poor health due to drinking too much alcohol, overeating, or abusing drugs. In addition, they often neglect themselves and withdraw socially, which can prevent them from fully enjoying the company of others and even their hobbies.
How to Overcome a Fear of Speaking.
There are lots of things you can do to rid yourself of speech anxiety. Here three techniques you can try that have worked well for me.
When I was in high school, my father taught me the roots of this technique. At its foundation, you pretend to be courageous and magically you start to actually be courageous. But without some preparation, that can be hard to do on the fly. Here’s what I suggest:
– Remember a time when you felt confident and brave. What did feel like in your body? Do your best to remember every detail you can about how that felt. For example, did you stand taller? Did you experience an associated emotion, such as excitement, pride or joy?
– Now evoke all those sensations again. Feel that moment like it was happening right now. And commit how this feels to memory.
– Practice evoking that feeling until you can do it with ease. Now you’ll be able to use that muscle memory to support you as you pretend to be fearless in a new situation.
It never ceases to amaze me how well this can work. In fact, this idea isn’t new. For example, it is an integral part of the opening musical number of The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein. Anna is sharing with her son how she faces new and scary situations: “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune so one will suspect I’m afraid.” She goes on to say, “The result of this deception is very strange to tell, for when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well!”
2. Shift Your Mindset.
Many people are afraid of speaking because they are afraid of being judged unworthy or foolish. They are under the mistaken impression that the audience is out to get them.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
If only for selfish reasons, your audience is actually rooting for you. They want you to succeed so they won’t be bored or waste their time. They are there to hear your message and they are more often than not willing to overlook the occasional glitch — a filler word, a fumbled phrase, a wardrobe or technical malfunction — in order to appreciate that message.
When you shift your mindset from focusing on you what you will be doing and focus more on being of service to your audience, giving them what they came for, you will find yourself less nervous. And, you may even find yourself caught up in your authentic passion for your topic.
3. Take It One Step at a Time.
One of my favorite scenes from Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (the Rankin/Bass animated special) is after Kris Kringle gives the Winter Warlock a toy train. They launch into a musical number about how to change your direction in life. “Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor!” This is true of overcoming a fear of speaking, as well.
Be gentle with yourself and take baby steps, pushing your envelope of fear one step at a time. If speaking in front of a group is too much for you to start with, start with an audience of one — yourself. Speak in front of a mirror. When that is comfortable, speak in front of one friend. When that is comfortable, speak in front of two friends. Keep growing your audience a couple of people at a time. Add in some strangers to the mix. Keep growing your comfort level until you can step in front on an audience of any size and speak your message with confidence.
Don’t be a statistic. Begin your Public Speaking Superhero’s Journey today and start benefitting from speaking skills in your life, business and career.
Award-winning speaker and bestselling author of “Public Speaking Super Powers“, Carma Spence knows that you can be a decent speaker despite being introverted and shy. She is fiercely committed to helping people unleash their inner speaking superhero, boldly communicate their message, and vanquish the mind goblins that keep them stuck.