Public speaking, which is defined as the act of speaking or delivering a speech in front of a crowd, is said to be the highest-ranking among all types of fears. Statistics say that 3 out of 4 people have this. Can you imagine a lot of people are more afraid of speaking in front of a crowd than dying? It’s quite absurd, to think that it is not even hazardous, harmful, or life-threatening, but this is actually something very serious for those who have it.
So, given the high percentage of people who have this phobia, is it right to assume that all those speakers, teachers, politicians, and other individuals we see on stage were/are not suffering from it? The answer is no. There are people who just decided to overcome their fear in order to achieve their goals or to fulfill their mission. These are the kind of people who do not let their weaknesses stop them from pursuing their passion.
To be honest, I was one of the people who fear public speaking but I persevered to overcome it as it is very important in the field of sales. There are a lot of factors that develop this fear in a person. I will discuss some of those here.
- Fear of criticism. Most of us are usually concerned about what others think and say about us, and are not keen on receiving criticizing comments.
- Lack of confidence. Sometimes, we are not confident to speak not because we are typically shy, but because we lack preparation or knowledge about the topic we are supposed to speak about. Also, when we are not prepared, we tend to fail in managing the time and organize our thoughts accurately.
- Lack of self-esteem. This is a deeper and more difficult factor to deal with because this means that we do not appreciate, trust, or value ourselves. When this is the case, we usually think that we are not capable of speaking in front of many people, we are not worthy to be listened to or paid attention to, or that we do not have the knowledge and skills.
These are only some challenges that affect a person’s view on public speaking, but these are also the most common. I could say that once we learn how to deal with or address each of these, we will be able to overcome the fear of public speaking. How do we overcome these challenges then?
Firstly, we need acceptance. We have to accept the fact that no matter how perfect or flawless we think we are or our performance is, there are people who think otherwise. We cannot please everyone, as they say, so we just have to accept the criticisms and be thankful instead because those criticisms can help us improve. Secondly, we have to equip ourselves not only with knowledge but also with skills. Even those who are naturally eloquent and love crowds need to prepare themselves before getting on a platform or a stage. So we must make it a habit to study, and practice all the time. Lastly, we have to believe in ourselves that we can. We also have to accept that perfection is subjective, so we should not compare ourselves, our knowledge, and our abilities with others. Since this is normally something difficult to overcome on our own, we have to seek advice from experts, and from mentors on how we can develop self-esteem, and how we can stop sabotaging ourselves.
Public speaking is a necessity in many industries. It is absolutely necessary in the world of sales, business, and many more. If you are afraid of public speaking yet you wish to be a champion in sales, do not let it stop you from your goal. Work on what’s keeping you from it as what champions do.