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Public Speaking Skills Public Speaking Fear Comes From Perceived Failure.txt by BannavtiEric


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Public speaking skill is just like any other skill in that the more success that you have, the more
self-confidence in public speaking that you develop. The more failures, or perceived failures, that
you experience, the more public speaking fear that you are going to experience. The nervousness
or anxiety that you feel when you present is normal, but experiencing that public speaking fear for
the rest of your life definitely isn't.

Where does Public Speaking Fear Come From?

Think about any skill that you have developed in your life. For instance, you didn't come out of the
womb knowing how to ride a bike, drive a car, play a musical instrument, or work your iPhone. The
first time that you tried any of these activities, you probably experienced some type of discomfort
or nervousness. The key to gaining self-confidence in these, or any skill, is to have some type of
success where you grow. If the early stages of the skill development are wrought with failures,
though, the self-confidence will diminish. For instance, if someone who had never driven a car
before gets behind the wheel of a car all by himself or herself (no teacher or coach), then there is
a good chance that this first experience is not going to go very well. If the first attempt to drive is
on a freeway, then that fear, just like public speaking fear, is going to be huge. At the end of the
drive, the person might say something like, "I never, ever, want to experience that again!" If a boss
forces the person to attempt the skill years later, that fear is going to grow.

Public Speaking Skill is Developed through Success

A better way to learn a skill is to start with something less risky. In the car example above, most
people start in a parking lot with a parent or a coach. Once the confidence increases a little, then
the new driver might move to making right-hand turns around a neighborhood. Then move to left-
turns. Then maybe get into a higher traffic area. The freeway is last. If you are trying to develop
public speaking skills and eliminate public speaking fear, you'll want to take a similar approach.

Start with something less risky like speaking up at the staff meeting. Most managers or executives
want input on ideas or problems during staff meetings. Develop a habit of speaking up at least
once during these discussions. Next, volunteer to give a report on a project at a staff meeting.
Once you get more comfortable with these types of public speaking opportunities, try something
more risky. Maybe ask questions as an audience member in a bigger presentation. Remember
that just as when you tried more complicated things in learning to drive, at every stage you
experienced more nervousness, when you got to the freeway, the parking lot felt really safe. The
same thing will happen with public speaking fear. As you start to experience more complicated
presentations, the easier presentations become second nature.

A Public Speaking Coach can Speed Up Your Confidence Growth
Just like the parent or coach who taught you step-by-step how to drive a car, a good public
speaking coach can shave a lot of time off your learning curve. For instance, if you went in the
parking lot for your first driving experience, it might take you a while to learn how to park correctly.
The hardest part would be that you would have very little frame of reference to compare your skill
with, so you may not know when you are doing a good job. That questioning that you would have
in the back of your mind would cause nervousness. One of the most important parts of coaching is
having someone tell you when you did the skill correctly. By the way, you don't have to go out and
find a professional business coach or public speaking coach. Just look for someone who you think
presents very well in front of a group and ask the person to watch you and give you feedback. A
lot of toasting clubs use this type of coaching.

If your time is short, though, you might want to hire a professional coach. A good public speaking
coach can help you develop public speaking skills in a day or two that would take most people
years to develop and keep you from developing bad habits. For instance, when I was in my
twenties, I wanted to learn how to play golf. I was broke, so I bought some cheap second-hand
clubs and went down to the municipal golf course. After a few months, I got pretty good, but I had
a terrible slice which hurt my range quite a bit. When I played with friends, I was always two or
three strokes behind the group. Eventually, I just figured that golf wasn't my game, and I stopped
playing. Years later, I tried taking it back up and went to a golf-pro near my house. I asked him
how long it would take me to become competitive. He said, "Well, if you had come to me in the
beginning, maybe a few months, but now, it's going to be much harder." When I asked him why,
he explained to me that because of my slice, I had developed a habit of turning my body differently
to correct the symptom. I knew my ball was going to drift, so, over the years, I just changed my
aiming point. My body had become used to that swing, that I had to unlearn that habit before I
could re-learn a more proper swing.

If I had just practiced early on with feedback from someone who could already do what I wanted to
do, I could have saved myself some time and frustration. In public speaking skills, you can too.
Look for a mentor who has already eliminated his/her fear and let that person coach you. Your
coach will help you eliminate your public speaking fear much faster.

Doug Staneart is author of the book Fearless Presentations and founder of the Fearless
Presentations 2-Day Public Speaking Seminar that is offered in 50 major cities around the world.
He has written hundreds of free public speaking tip articles that are all available on his Public
Speaking Skills blog.

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