Public speaking is perhaps one of the most difficult things that we will have to do as human beings in a modern day society. At one point or another, we’ve all had to either do a presentation of some sort in our classes or with coworkers but at one point or another, we’ve all had to speak in front of a group. It is a very frightening thing for us to experience, but why? Why is it so hard for us to talk in front of people? What makes it so difficult? Is it the fear of humiliation in front of one’s peers? Or is it perhaps one does not wished to be judged by every single one of the faces in the crowd? How can we overcome it? All of these and more are all questions that we all have (or at least I have) asked in the past, and hopefully, this article will help clear some of those questions.
According to the article “Why Do We Fear Public Speaking?” public speaking as a fear comes from evolution, and is a subconscious fear we have from our ancestors. This fear comes from the fact that we as human beings would face off against larger threats by living in clusters and groups. Consequently, being accepted in groups was a huge survival factor that is taken into consideration, and can easily show one why the fear of public speaking would come from this. Not being accepted means no survival for a given individual, henceforth the fear. No better words could be used to summarize from this article: “On a deep level, people are afraid their audience will reject them.” However, this fear is not always shown in ways one might expect, as we all know that even if we do terribly, our lives are not at stake. So one will most likely not put their hands up in defense as if they are going to be attacked. Instead, one might show other body signs to show that they are scared instead.
One of the biggest signs that one can look for is how many “…collaborative words and personal pronouns to help the audience feel more involved in the message.” Not only does this bring in the attention of the audience, but helps bring a more overall relaxed tone to the speech being given. This is a strong indicator that shows if one is comfortable in what he or she is saying. Although this is not the only thing that one should look for when analyzing if someone (or perhaps oneself) is nervous or fearful of public speaking. There are other signs that one should look for when understanding if one may be fearful of public speaking.
When one is speaking to a larger audience, one should look for how much more passion or how much one may care about the message he or she is saying to the intended audience. According to the given article, “The most confident speakers demonstrate 22.6 percent more passion than nervous speakers, meaning their deliver exhibits the kind of energy and engagement that indicates they’re really invested in their topic.” This means if one is really confident in what he or she may be saying about a given subject, there will be a lot more ups and downs in terms of tone in one’s speech, their language will include more words with specific connotations to them, and the speaker will speed up and slow down at certain parts. One of the biggest indicators (and personal pet peeves of mine when people speak) that shows if one is fearful or not is if one is more monotone in the voice and language that they use. One will sound like a robot or one of those text to speech modules we all have on smartphones. This is a sure-thing to look for when trying to find out if one is fearful of public speaking or not.
So now that a couple ideas have already been discussed about why public speaking is so feared and what to look for in a public speaker to see if he or she is nervous, the next logical thing would be to understand how one can become a better public speaker, or at least learn a few tactics that may help with overcoming this congenital fear we all have.
Fortunately, within the very same article, a couple tactics are discussed as to how one can best overcome these fears. My favorite thing about the article is actually in what it says about how one can best overcome this fear of public speaking. The article states “If you’re nervous about an upcoming speech, most coaches will offer general tips like ‘be prepared,’ or ‘breathe and stretch to calm your nerves,’ or ‘remember the audience is on your side.’…If you’re nervous, one should channel that nervous energy into demonstrating your passion for the topic at hand as you share your best insights with your audience…” which is something that I have done for a while. Although I do enjoy to do public speaking, I still often get nervous about whatever it is that I am presenting, no matter what it is. However, more often than not, I will use the nervous energy I have and use it as a source of energy to speak to my audience. It has even helped me get my part-time job. It is a very useful skill that I believe will help many others as well if they were to attempt it. However, this may not be the perfect strategy for everyone, as we all are different peoples with different strategies that may work, so do whatever is most comfortable for you! Though these are all wonderful strategies that should be tried if you haven’t already.