Overcoming the Dread of Public Speaking

public speaking

People fear public speaking more than death.  It’s true --crazy, but true.

 

Editor's note: This is part one of a two part public speaking series.  

There are entire organizations (like Toastmaster’s) organized around helping people get over this fear, because we can see in our public life that sometimes, at least, eloquence can matter. 

I can’t imagine Barack Obama could have won the presidency had he not been so powerful an orator.  But then… never mind, I won’t go there.

Why should this matter to a small business owner? 

Because it might make the difference between growing your business and being stuck in the mud.  It might make the difference between simply being a member of your community and being a pillar of your community.

No matter what your business, unless you are a silent (and invisible) partner, you will interact on a regular basis with your customers, prospects, vendors, accountants, lawyers, salespeople, etc.. 

Being able to convince people or at least influence people can be a pretty effective tool whatever your trade.  Most successful people are perfectly comfortable doing this one-on-one or in a small group. 

Most people are comfortable saying grace or giving thanks at a large Thanksgiving table with family. 

But get most people in front of a business group of 20 or more and they panic. 

Here are nine common issues: 

1.   Their voice drops to a whisper or mumble

2.   They sweat

3.   They don’t make eye contact

4.   They stare at their shoes

5.   They turn their back on the audience and read the PowerPoint slides on the screen behind them

6.   They are fixated on their notes

7.   They grip the podium like it was a railing on the Titanic

8.   They talk too fast 

9.   And they clear their throats repeatedly.

Full disclosure – I absolutely LOVE public speaking.  I have a long background in theater in grammar school, high school, college and even grad school.  

I took acting classes and improvisation classes. 

I was decent, but it was fairly obvious to me that I did not have a ghost of a chance to make it as a professional actor, so I went into business, but those presentation skills have served me well and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak in front of many professionals, consumers, students, and other groups as well. 

Next page- Experiencing elements of panic

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About the author

Carlos E. Garcia

Carlos E. Garcia, born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively).  He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research.  Most recently  SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm.

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