Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen

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Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen

Is speaking in public paralyzing you and halting your career?  When I was younger, I always had a tough go of public speaking.

I remember back in college, (mind you, I returned to complete both my undergrad and masters in my early 40’s) I was literally paralyzed with fear the first time I presented in front of my class.

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My dear teacher saw me in the throes of a panic attack and gently looked at me with kindness and with that our eyes locked, and I was able to complete my speech.

We spoke briefly about the incident afterward, and I knew I had to do something to change my behavior and attitude about speaking, and fast.

I decided to calm myself first. As a person who suffered from anxiety attacks, this was going to present a challenge for sure. I knew I was far from being a dolt and knew what I had to do to succeed in school and in life as well.

Now, remember, I am not a counselor or medical professional, but I don’t need to be to share what worked for me. Below, you will read about what I started doing to change my anxiety and change my attitude about speaking in public:

Key pointers I used to change my anxiety and change my attitude about speaking in public:

  • I started focusing my attention on other students and watched their behaviors, and I took notes on what I observed – lots of them.
  • I made sure I practiced speaking at home either alone or in front of my husband.
  • I kept repeating to myself that nothing bad was going to happen and it was just a speech in front of other folks who I knew were just as anxious as I was.
  • Breath – when we are anxious, this is the first thing we forget to do. Make a conscious effort to make yourself breath. Take slow and deep breaths. 
  • I kept telling myself over and over I could do this, and I was making it larger than life for no reason. 
  • I knew and believed that I would not let my anxiety control my life.
  • I reminded myself that what I wanted was in reach and nothing would stop me. 

Within about three weeks, I was actually able to stand in front of the class without panic. Above all, I found that practicing was key in overcoming this unfounded fear. I was focused and present.

My professor was shocked at my improvement as well as my friends and family. I worked hard on dealing with that anxiety issue, and what I came to achieve in my professional career still astounds me. 

One of the positions I held in NYC required me to not only teach to a classroom of over 100 people, but I had to provide motivational speeches as well. Teaching is one thing – motivational speeches are another.

Again, I used the same principles and they worked exactly the same. I ended up having a wonderful, exciting professional career only because I would not let my anxiety and fear run my life!

OK, I had successfully nailed the fear factor and now I had to learn how to make folks want to listen to what I had to say.

I knew this was paramount in being a good speaker – to have folks listen. Listening and hearing are two different things, and I wanted them to listen and learn!

Over the years, I have learned so many tips and tricks to get folks to want to listen – some I keep near to my heart and always make manifest. 

There are so many courses and training websites where you can learn some great tips and tricks for sure. 

A while ago, I saw a video on TED Talk about listening (they also have other videos which I adore and watch almost every day.

Let me digress for a minute and tell you how amazing TED videos are. Their videos are inspiring, educational, motivational, and moving. Here are some of the categories they have to choose from. 

Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen

OK, now back to what I learned about getting folks to listen and the video from TED. It’s called How to Speak so that People want to Listen. It really summarizes the best of what I learned through the years. 

Julian Treasure – the speaker and author of the video, eloquently explains in the most captivating way how to use this wonderful toolbox you have in your already have in your possession. Julian Treasure studies sound and advises businesses on how best to use it. 

Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen
Julian Treasure

Here are some of the do’s and dont’s of Julian’s on how to speak powerfully to make a change in the world and deeply affect the people around us. 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Speaking 

Gossip – speaking ill of somebody that is not present: You know very well that the person gossiping will be talking about you five minutes later.

Judging: It’s very hard to actually listen to someone if you know you are being judged.

Negativity: It’s difficult if not impossible to listen to negativity all the time – Julian gives an example of this saying, he once said to his mother, “can you believe it’s October the 1st already? And she said, ” I know, isn’t it dreadful?” Laughable for sure but terribly hard to listen to folks that are constantly negative!

Complaining: “Complaining is viral misery” he states. Who can listen to that all day? 
Excuses: Julian states that some people have a “blamethrower”- ( I love that word!) they pass it along to everybody else and don’t take responsibility for their actions. 

Exaggeration: It demeans our language. He says, “If something is really awesome, what do I call it? So true! We use the word awesome so often it has become flapdoodle! 

Lying: This one is easy – we never want to listen to people we know are lying to us. We can often tell intuitively when someone is lying. 

Dogmatism: Julian calls this “the confusion of facts with opinions”. When these two things get merged, you get bombarded with their opinions and it’s hard to listen to because you can’t discern facts from their opinion! 

Julian Treasure also lets us know that there is a positive way of thinking about this. There are four powerful cornerstones that we can stand on to make a change in the world and get people to listen. He uses the word HAIL to explain this premise. 

He defines HAIL – to greet or acclaim enthusiastically. 

H: Honesty – be clear and straight 
A: Authenticity – be yourself
I: Integrity – be your word
L: Love – wish them well

For me personally, HAIL has always been my cornerstone of truth when speaking. 

Here are two charts from the video that will help you understand.

Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen

Getting Over Your Fear Of Speaking in Public And Speak So People Will Listen

I recommend watching the video as he goes deeper into the conversation but before you do, I want you to take away one important personal fact from this article.

Trust in yourself and believe that anything is possible. Don’t let fear control your day, your life, what you do, and who you love. With trust in yourself, all things are truly possible.

I’m living proof of that statement. I made my dreams come true simply because I would not let anxiety and fear control me. And if you falter, start over again.

No one said you can only have one chance at trying. Once you make that decision, you are on the road to making your dreams a reality. 

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  1. This is such a great list of suggestions and tips. Thank you for giving pointers on how to be a better speaker. I don’t know when I’ll need these tips right now, but I wouldn’t doubt that I’ll need this information very soon.

  2. Some good tips here. I have never had an issue with public speaking, so when I was in college, it was nice to be able to refine my speaking. I remember learning some of these lessons. It all helped me later in life when I was adjunct teaching at a local college and any time I have to get up in front of people.

  3. I love hearing stories like yours! I know too many folks who are terrified! These tips are great and I love that TED talk…so informative. Happy New Year! and thanks much for stopping by!

  4. I learned a new word: Flapdoodle! I enjoyed reading this today the most of all your posts. I listed to TED before and enjoy it.

  5. Ahh, I’m in my 30’s and still have this fear! I think public speaking is universally one of the most common human fears, and I don’t really know why! If we all have the same fear, then why are we afraid of talking to eachother?! Good tips here. I especially like the HAIL acronym about speaking from the heart.

  6. Hi Jill! Yes, I agree totally. Glad you enjoyed the post. Trust me, if you practice and use these tips it can help immensely. Thanks much for stopping by and commenting. Have a great weekend@!
    Carolann xo

  7. It’s a huge fear indeed as i was also so scared to go over the rostrum while it was my first time but as i realized that it is just the way i built it inside me. It went smoothly and i never had to go cold and clammy over there while i had to. Bdw very nice article.

  8. HI Adnan, so glad to hear your first speaking engagement went swimmingly! Your right, a lot of the fear is in our minds and once we are doing it, it’s like being on auto-pilot. Thanks much for stopping by and so glad you enjoyed the read. Hope to see you back again soon!

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