Primary Blog/Communication & Public Speaking/Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking: How I Became a Master Orator

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking: How I Became a Master Orator

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

One question I often get asked is whether master communicators are born that way. Unfortunately, no one is born a good communicator.

I haven't always been such a good communicator. I overcame my fear of public speaking, and so can you.

The fear of public speaking is one of the greatest fears most people ever face.

The moment you understand the root cause for this fear, you will be able to stand up and present a meaningful message and go on to pursue many more career achievements.

The fear of public speaking is actually the fear of speaking in front of someone who we perceive has something we don’t, or who has more than we have. That “something” or “more” could be intelligence, wealth, success, power, authority, and so on.

Communication is a learned behavior, which means that a fear of it is also a learned behavior. Because we learn how to communicate later in life, that means anyone can learn it, even you. When we have a fear of public speaking, what we are doing is focusing on every negative outcome that could happen as a result of speaking in front of other people.

We often wonder if we are going to be judged. Will people believe you to be unintelligent? Will people mock your accent? Your looks? We are focusing on all the things people could think about us. We fear embarrassment and a loss of status. That is why many of us fear public speaking.

When I first began public speaking, I was in high school and we had to do a presentation in English class. I went to a school where I was the only Asian student and the only person with black hair. Cantonese was my first language that I spoke with my parents. I was visibly different, shy, and easily intimidated. I was shaking and trembling the whole time. My voice shook. I was afraid that my teeth would chatter if I closed my mouth.

I graduated high school and went to college, which meant bigger presentations in front of even more students. I didn’t want to be seen as unintelligent or that I didn’t belong there. I was focusing on every outcome I didn’t want to happen.

What creates this intense emotion is a threat, real or perceived. My fears of public speaking were all perceived threats. I couldn’t possibly know exactly what was going to happen, but I was focusing on the negative so much

There is a difference between real and perceived threat. A fire in the corner of the ream is a real threat to your wellbeing. An armed robber is a real threat. A poisonous snake is a real threat. These real threats cause fear.

When we are convinced that a perceived threat is exactly what’s going to happen, but it has not happened yet, that is a perceived threat. The fact is that there is no way you can know that’s going to happen. The mere perception of the threat causes anxiety.

Anxiety and fear are not the same. Though often used interchangeably because their symptoms are the same, but they have different root causes.

Public speaking is a perceived threat. Even if you are judged or criticized, it is not a real and present danger because public speaking is not a harmful act. The root cause of the anxiety you feel about public speaking is doubt. We doubt a favorable outcome.

When I realized this, the number one thing I did was ground myself in the truth that public speaking will not harm or threaten me.

The second thing I did was focus on them, not myself. When you’re afraid of public speaking, you are focusing on yourself. Public speaking is about your audience.

The third shift I made was to perceive myself to be more influential or powerful than those I was talking to. This is effective since the underlying fears of public speaking boil down to subordinating to those you perceive have something you don’t. When this happens, your ability to speak fluently and confidently will diminish because it leads to a self-depreciating preoccupation with what they think of you.

Hopefully you can begin to appreciate that the first change to make is from within.

It would also be wise to stop focusing on yourself. Instead, focus on your audience and think about the mission and message you desire to share, and how you can make it meaningful to your audience. Then simply start your speech or presentation with the content you know with certainty.

Accountability is the multiplier for success. When we set out to make improvements to ourselves and our lives, transformation is key. Information alone doesn’t transform. My coaching program, Awaken to Vocation, is an empowerment program for educated, career-driven professionals who value making a meaningful contribution as much as they value making a good living. It is designed to help you master your professional destiny, elevate your vocational confidence, and dominate your life purpose. Guard your future.

Apply HEREfor an opportunity to work with me.

If you are interested in more material about career growth, communication skills, and critical thinking for career, check out my YouTube channelor connect with me on LinkedIn.

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