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4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking ranks extremely high for most people.  Experts say that it is feared even more than death!  It’s easy to assume that you are not very good at it when, in fact, the problem is caused less by your ability to speak and more by your fear of speaking.  Once you break that barrier of fear, you may find out that you’re pretty darn good at it.  Not only that, you might even love it!  As someone who broke that very barrier, I understand this fear intimately.  Here are three steps to get you started in your journey.

Write down at least one way that this fear is limiting your life.

What is this fear stopping you from doing? If you can figure this out, then your motivation for overcoming it will increase.  Is the fear preventing you from speaking up in meetings or in the class room? Do you feel awkward at social gatherings? Do you choose your courses at school based on whether or not there are presentations to do? I sure did! All of that applied to me. I got sick of being afraid.  Everyone else seemed to be having so much more fun doing things that made my stomach churn knots.

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Join a speaking group.

Probably the most popular group is Toastmasters International.  It is a wonderful environment full of encouragement.  Sure it’s nerve-wracking! Sure your palms will get sweaty! Heck, I even cried during my first speech!  I completed the Competent Communicator Award which entails doing 10 very specific types of speeches.  The order of the speeches was well thought out.  The first one is just about introducing yourself to the group.  By the time you get to the last one, you are using effective gestures and visual aids. You might have even entered a contest or two by then!  I can’t tell you how liberating it felt to finally break that barrier.  I enjoy  public speaking more than I ever thought possible.  No, it didn’t turn me into an extrovert, but my inner world was finally ready to be shown to the outer world.  Should you decide you want to take speaking to a deeper level, there are many options for growth at Toastmasters.

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Acknowledge your fearful feelings.

Realize that you are afraid because you care.  It’s OK to have butterflies.  It’s OK to have sweaty palms.  You respect the task at hand and you care about doing a good job.  That’s great!  People can feel that you care.  They can also tell if you don’t care.  When you do care, people want to hear what you have to say.  I honestly used to think that people didn’t want to hear what I had to say, so I would rush through my speech.  I learned that I had valuable information to share that people wanted to hear! Once you truly believe that what you have to share has value, your speaking will improve dramatically.  The more practice you have with public speaking, the better you will become at controlling those fearful feelings.  You’ll be able to use them in a more positive, productive manner that will actually fuel you.

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Talk about what you know.

When you truly understand a topic, it is easier to focus on getting the idea across rather than trying to remember something word for word.  Being able to ad-lib gives you some freedom with your words.  This also lowers your anxiety.  If you must talk about something out of your comfort zone, research your topic well.  Try to relate it to something in your life so it becomes easier to talk about.

Public speaking is a skill that can be learned.  It can also be forgotten, just like other types of skills.  Once you break that barrier, keep yourself tuned up by either continuing with your speaking group or actively seeking out reasons to speak in public.

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Last Updated on March 5, 2021

Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

I talk a lot to myself. It helps me to keep my concentration on the activity on hand, makes me focus more on my studies, and gives me some pretty brilliant ideas while chattering to myself; more importantly, I produce better works. For example, right now, as I am typing, I am constantly mumbling to myself. Do you talk to yourself? Don’t get embarrassed admitting it because science has discovered that those who talk to themselves are actually geniuses… and not crazy!

Research Background

Psychologist-researcher Gary Lupyan conducted an experiment where 20 volunteers were shown objects, in a supermarket, and were asked to remember them. Half of them were told to repeat the objects, for example, banana, and the other half remained silent. In the end, the result shown that self-directed speech aided people to find the objects faster, by 50 to 100 milliseconds, compared to the silent ones.

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“I’ll often mutter to myself when searching for something in the refrigerator or the supermarket shelves,” said Gary Lupyan.

This personal experience actually made him conduct this experiment. Lupyan, together with another psychologist, Daniel Swigley, came up with the outcomes that those to talk to oneself are geniuses. Here are the reasons:

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It stimulates your memory

When you are talking to yourself, your sensory mechanism gets activated. It gets easier on your memory since you can visualize the word, and you can act accordingly.[1]

It helps stay focused

When you are saying it loud, you stay focused on your task,[2] and it helps you recognise that stuff immediately. Of course, this only helps if you know what the object you are searching looks like. For example, a banana is yellow in colour, and you know how a banana looks like. So when you are saying it loud, your brain immediately pictures the image on your mind. But if you don’t know what banana looks like, then there is no effect of saying it loud.

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It helps you clarify your thoughts

Every one of us tends to have various types of thoughts. Most make sense, while the others don’t. Suppose you are furious at someone and you feel like killing that person. Now for this issue you won’t run to a therapist, will you? No, what you do is lock yourself in a room and mutter to yourself. You are letting go off the anger by talking to yourself, the pros and cons of killing that person, and eventually you calm down. This is a silly thought that you have and are unable to share it with any other person. Psychologist Linda Sapadin said,[3]

“It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you are contemplating.”

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Laptop In Hotel Room/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

Reference

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