What if you could set yourself apart from nearly everyone else and, without the need for any fancy degree or education, reside in the TOP 25% of the population?
How much of a life advantage would this give you?
I was recently speaking with a friend about glossophobia – better known as the fear of public speaking.
According to a recent survey, 75% of people are terrified of getting up in front of a crowd and saying a few words.
I don’t blame them. It’s a stressful experience! Everyone is looking at you, judging you, watching you sweat, and if you mess-up people are going to see it and talk about it.
Sounds horrible, right? Instead, think of it this way...
If you can apply yourself to develop the skill of public speaking – you don’t even have to be that good, just willing and somewhat able – you instantly set yourself apart from three out of every four people every time you walk into a room!
You’ll possess a skill and ability of which 75% of people don’t. Better yet, you’ll be entirely comfortable doing something of which the majority of the population is scared to death!
And the best part...
The more you do it, the better you get. So in time, you move up the ladder even further, and perhaps climb into the top 10% or even 5%!
One single skill and you set yourself apart from 95% of others. That’s so powerful! Who WOULDN'T want to possess such an ability?
"Ya but public speaking doesn't come naturally to me; I'll never be good at it."
In reality, public speaking is a fundamental skill like any other. It doesn’t require any technical knowledge or specialized degree. It merely requires us to speak about things in front of others. It’s really not a big deal.
However, many of us, although terrified of public speaking, don’t know why we’re terrified. What are the underlying psychological reasons?
If we can understand the reasons, perhaps we'll have a better chance at overcoming the fear.
I decided to find out...
The answer lies in our level of confidence and degree of social anxiety.
Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is classified as a social anxiety disorder which typically stems back to our early teenage years as we begin our transition into adulthood. While many people suffer from various forms of social anxiety, very few people ever get treatment.
I dislike public speaking as much as anyone else. I’m classified as Myers-Briggs ISTJ, which means I’m naturally quiet, shy and introverted (read more about ISTJ here).
ISTJ's at a Glance
I'm not too fond of large crowds either, and I don't particularly appreciate being the centre of attention, yet over the years I’ve given dozens of presentations, sales pitches, TV spots, radio interviews, and speeches in front of others.
How can we overcome our natural, introverted tendencies?
The secret is mental preparation and confidence. Here’s what I mean...
To overcome our social anxiety and the fear of public speaking, we must have confidence in ourselves, confidence in our knowledge, and abilities. If we’re confident in what we’re saying, after the first initial scare of getting up on the mic, our training and knowledge will take over.
In the definition of ISTJ, the very first characteristic noted is ‘quiet.'
Not a single mention of being outspoken, attention-seeking, or a craving for social interaction. Yet I know this can work against me, so, like I visit the gym to build muscle and get stronger, I take every speaking opportunity available, and practice relentlessly beforehand.
By practicing, we build confidence in our knowledge and ability to speak on our topic. This confidence will automatically appear in the form of reactive muscle memory, preventing us from becoming a deer caught in the headlights when on stage.
What about the initial fear of getting up in front of a crowd?
This fear never completely goes away. Even great public speakers like Steve Jobs still felt incredibly nervous before a presentation. However, once on stage his fear quickly subsided, and his training took over.
For example, have you ever spoken in front of a crowd only to find yourself quite comfortable towards the end, and in some cases wishing you could talk longer?
Did the audience laugh at your jokes or seem responsive to what you were saying, thus melting away your social anxiety?
These are prime examples of how quickly we can get over our initial scare of public speaking, provided we are confident in our knowledge to speak on our topic.
Now I’m not saying you have to be the next Steve Jobs or Tony Robbins, yet almost everyone will have to speak in front of others at some point in his or her lives – whether it be in a small boardroom at work, or a school presentation. So why not try and get the least bit comfortable with it?
Being comfortable with something of which 75% of others are horrified is a life advantage like no other!
More tips to help overcome the social anxiety of public speaking…
Visualization techniques – visualizing yourself on stage ahead of your speech can effectively reduce social anxiety levels because you've already envisioned the experience and know what to expect.
Proper posture – standup tall and look confident. Don’t slouch. Portraying a steady, confident demeanour, even if only on the outside, will boost your confidence on the inside.
Meditation and breathing – meditation has a whole host of benefits, including reduced social anxiety which can lead to greater comfort when speaking in front of others. By regularly meditating, followed by several minutes of deep breathing before going on stage, you can dramatically reduce your social anxiety levels.