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That's Life

As a career professional, volunteer, mom, wife, and friend, I focus on the positive aspects of life, even when the road is rough getting there. Life is funny. How you treat others, how you handle situations, and how you live each day is your responsibility ... so are the outcomes.

Public Speaking

According to a post by News Wire Today, “The biggest fear is public speaking, with 15 percent of American experiencing a dramatic fear of it,” said Dr. Michael Telch of the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders (LSAD) in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. “People have had to turn down jobs, and certainly students have dropped classes because of it.” (Retrieved from http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/17334/.) Most everyone I know does not like to get in front of an audience to deliver a message of any length. I, on the other hand, am one of the individuals, who are keen on talking to crowds no matter what size they are. The bigger the crowd, the more comfortable I feel. In my head, I cannot understand why it is so hard for anyone to execute public speaking, even when they are an expert in the subject matter. I am sure there are commonalities with those, who do not like to present. Over the many years I have been speaking, I recognize my keys to being successful at it are being prepared, having confidence in the subject matter, being comfortable with the presentation style, and knowing who the audience is.

I did a quick poll with my Facebook contacts to see, if anyone would own up to not liking presentations and / or public speaking, then provide insight as to why. I wanted to see, if their reasons were consistent with what researchers have pinpointed. The results consisted of these responses, which I have seen in articles and textbooks over the years;
1.) Anxiety,
2.) Hand sweats, rapid pulse, can’t breathe, then eventually pass out,
3.) Thinking what others are thinking about you,
4.) Audience not being receptive to your message, and
5.) Not being able to answer questions and looking like you are not knowledgeable.

Whenever I have had anxiety or sweat issues, it was because I was not breathing properly or not at all. Breathing is one of the details often overlooked. Under normal circumstances, people do not think about their breathing. When situations change causing discomfort, it is the time when the correct breathing techniques can limit feeling anxious, especially when all eyes are on you with varied opinions. It is part of human nature to think about how others perceive you, yet you cannot let it inhibit your abilities. Confidence creates comfort. Comfort is achieved by practicing your presentations and truly having the knowledge in subject matter. It is beneficial to practice in front of friends or family, who know and who do not know what your topic entails.

Being prepared for the questions comes from the trial runs you did. Questions are the norm with all public speaking, and they become easier to field. Never be afraid to tell someone you do not have the answer, yet would be more than willing to find out and follow up with them. It is okay to not know everything. Stumbling over words to create a response sends mixed messages to the receiver. Credibility increases with the audience when using the “I’ll get back to you” technique. Presentation styles vary. Part of being a successful speaker is finding what works for you. I recommend a style as close to how you talk to people in a daily, work environment. Audiences recognize sureness and equate it to the level of knowledge you have on the subject. It can be identified by the viewers and, in turn, they become engaged in what you are saying.

There is a really helpful article called, The 10 Biggest Public Speaking Phobias And How To Overcome Them. (Saglimbeni, 2011) It describes the distresses people go through, as mentioned above, and gives way to opportunities for improvement. The best advice I can provide to help ease the pain of public speaking is to be yourself, do not try to speak like anyone else (focus on the message), and know your audience. When you present on a regular basis, you eventually find the right style for you, which enables comfort and confidence to be illustrated in conveyance.

Resources
Phillips, Joseph. (2010). IT Project Management, On Track From Start to Finish. United States
of America: The McGraw Hill Companies.

Retrieved from http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/17334/

Saglimbeni, Bronwyn. (2011). The10 Biggest Public Speaking Phobias And How To Overcome
Them. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/10-biggest-public-speaking-phobias-2011-2?op=1#ixzz2faGZJxtN
 

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