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Public Speaking

Many of us are expected to speak during our working career. For all too many it can be very daunting and stressful. Very few are given training and I doubt anyone is provided with stress management techniques. If we listen to those speaking in public we notice how confident most sound. The speaker delivers their speech with an expertise we could only dream of matching. The larger the audience the more impressive the speaker appears.

It is all too easy to forget that the speakers are just like you and me. They get anxious too, even when doing it for a living. We tend to think "I could never do that" rather than wondering how they overcome their fears. I spoke to one after-dinner speaker who told me how worried he gets before his performance and how much he analyses it afterwards. Many of us struggle in small meetings. We worry about speaking out, even with a small group of colleagues. We worry how others will react, that our ideas are no good, or perhaps we will be ridiculed. The safe option is to remain silent and that is what we end up doing. Meetings can be interesting because all too often people worry about what they will say. They cannot listen to others until their piece is over and relief means they often do not listen to the rest of the meeting. Non of this is unusual. Think about discussions with friends and how often you just concentrate on what you want to say. Perhaps you might have overcome your fear of small meetings, yet cannot face the spotlight where you are speaking alone. Standing in front of people can be daunting. You suddenly become self conscious, thinking of how you are standing, everyone watching, your hands might shake, and that is before you have to project your voice.


Instead of putting pressure on yourself, take a deep breath. Remember the majority of people in the room are too scared to stand up. They are there to listen, and you know your subject. No matter the size of the room, you will remain focussed on your topic. If it is a subject you enjoy, let your enthusiasm shine through.


If you feel yourself wobbling take a deep breath. Pause and do not worry about the silence. Collect your thoughts and recommence at a steady pace. You might never reach the stage of enjoying public speaking but with practice it can become less daunting. The following article provides some very good tips and hints for when you might need to speak next: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/expert-answers/fear-of-public-speaking/faq-20058416#:~:text=Practice%20your%20complete%20presentation%20several,and%20see%20opportunities%20for%20improvement. If like me, you become anxious after the event, remember to forgive yourself. You might have made some mistakes, but the chances are few noticed. I would never criticise others anywhere never as much as I do myself. The key is to be kind to yourself. Concentrate on all what went well, rather than the one or two things you could have said differently. Listen to feedback and accept the compliments.



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