I have been giving oral presentations in school, work, and co-curricular settings for over 20 years, and I do not enjoy it at all. Having performed my first video presentation recently, I can add that to my list of media that I’m not comfortable with presenting by. I am a very shy, and self-conscious person, and it makes me very uncomfortable to put myself in front of a group of people and speak. One of the few times I looked forward to speaking publicly was at my sisters wedding, when I had to give my maid of honour speech. It may have been because I had been drinking throughout the night, so my nerves were down, but I had been looking forward to it as soon as I finished writing the speech. Once I got up there however, my nerves kicked in, but my little niece, who was 11 months old at the time, toddled up to me, and wanted up. So, I picked her up, straightened my glasses and carried on. It’s funny how something small can help you overcome your fears.
One of my least favourite memories of public speaking was when I was volunteering with NLCC (Navy League Cadet Corps) Polynia in St. John’s, and I was asked to be the MC and the year end banquet. This wasn’t just a quick 30 second to a minute-long speech, this was 2 hours of me keeping things going, giving out awards, making (age appropriate) jokes, among many other things. I was told afterwards that I did a good job, I am told that frequently once the speech is finished, but I can honestly say that I was terrified the entire time. I persevered however, and I know I am stronger for it. Every time I do something I am uncomfortable with, I know that I need to keep putting myself into situations that force me to confront that discomfort.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, these are some of the best ways to overcome a fear of public speaking:
- Know your topic.
- Get organized.
- Practice, and then practice some more.
- Challenge specific worries.
- Visualize your success.
- Do some deep breathing.
- Focus on your material, not on your audience.
- Don’t fear a moment of silence.
- Recognize your success.
- Get support.
These points have come up in my life many times as general knowledge, but I have only now seen it attributed to a formal study. I appreciate the research that has gone into trying to help people overcome this fear, as public speaking is a very common fear.
Sawchuk, C. N. (2017, May 17). Fear of Public Speaking: How Can I Overcome It? Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/expert-answers/fear-of-public-speaking/faq-20058416