Let’s Talk Phobias!

presenting.jpg74% of us have Glossophobia (National Health Institute Study 9-4-16). Before you say you are not afflicted, glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. So – now that you know – does this include you?

Only 68% of us are freaked out by the thought of dying. What gives?

Plus, we are more afraid of public speaking than spiders and the dark, too. I have the pleasure of facilitating a two day Persuasive Presentation Skills training and we begin the class by talking about these statistics. Participants will say they are more afraid of flying or clowns than public speaking, but then the truth comes out when I see the look on their face and wobble in their voice when it comes time to present.

Most of us are not key note speaker material and that is okay. But, the reality is that if we are active part of the outside world, we will be called upon to present to more than two or three people at sometime in our life. We typically don’t think about team huddles or project updates as public speaking opportunities, but in fact they are. Even the staff meeting when you are asked to present an idea or update is a small stage version of public speaking. Like it or not, the more polished we look, sound and feel when speaking to a group of any size is important. Important to our career growth opportunities, it can reveal the breadth of our competencies and shine a light on our confidence.

Not surprisingly, in class I tend to hear the same comments:

“Not sure why my boss asked me to present, I’m not the expert in this area.”

“I don’t plan on ever speaking to big groups, why do I need help?”

“I am not the boss, so why do I need public speaking skills?”

“I have a job that keeps me behind the scenes, why do I need to work on my skills?”

We don’t stop to think that maybe our boss does think we are the subject matter experts, or perhaps they see potential in us and want others to see it too? Regardless of how or why you are asked to present, speak or update a group, grab the opportunity and make the most of it.

People tend to make the same mistakes when presenting. Too often people sit down, open the PowerPoint template and they’re off and running. Adding more and more slides to ensure that one additional good idea is included and then practice their presentation in their head. Have to make sure you know what you’ll say. Right?

While that is the not the worst way to prepare, consider this approach; determine why you were asked to present – and what the expected outcome is.

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they need from your message?
  • What needs to happen as a result of the presentation? How will the room be set?
  • What equipment do I need?

Create an outline so you are able to create an organized message. Don’t underestimate the impact of graphics and images.

Of course the preparation time and effort changes with each presentation. Or it should!

I’ve seen people who think they are good in front of a group and can simply wing it. Not often a successful approach. Then there are those who include PowerPoint slides that force them to say “I know you can’t see these small numbers, but…” and have so much text on slides they end up reading them verbatim.

Why didn’t they just email the deck to the attendees and save everyone the time of another meeting? If attendees can read your PowerPoint slides and learn everything they needed to know – what are you there for? Simplified PowerPoint slides, less graphs and charts, improved images can dramatically increase the power of your message and even improve the speed in which you are able to get your point across and the audience to retain the information.

I’ve seen some pretty remarkable improvement in two short days of class. I can’t tell you how many times participants have said, “I had no idea that I used ‘um, uh and like’ as filler words.” After following what they’ve been taught, they look so much more confident in their presentation when they pare it down and reorganize the content focusing on the message and the connection to the audience.

Next time you are asked to present – I hope you’ll say “Yes – I’d love to!”

It can be a great opportunity. With a little preparation I hope you will join me in the 26% of the population without glossophobia.

Check out our free e-book Speak Up! Give More Confident, Persuasive Presentations and learn more presentation skills.

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