Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

I recently heard from a small business owner who wrote, "I am one of those people who hate standing in front of an audience… I am finding that my fearfulness is preventing me from marketing my business the way I want to; for example, I avoid going to business association meetings where I have to introduce myself." Sound familiar?

This statement is not surprising, since the fear of public speaking is consistently ranked as people's number one fear. That fear becomes a roadblock on your path to success and an obstacle that prevents you from growing your business, getting a better job or feeling more confident.

I had a similar case with a client last year. Let's call her Rachel. Rachel is a life coach whose fear of public speaking was preventing her from giving the presentations that were required to grow her business and attract new clients.

In order to overcome Rachel's fear, we worked on the following three steps:

1. UNDERSTANDING what she was afraid of (looking like an incompetent fool, having her face and neck turn completely red)

2. PRACTICING her presentation (writing it out, rehearsing it so she could communicate her message within the time limit, practicing it in the clothes she would be wearing for the actual event, getting comfortable making eye contact and smiling, etc.)

3. EXPERIENCING SUCCESS one step at a time - starting off with delivering a 5-minute introduction about life coaching (that we worked on for hours) and progressing to running a 1-hour workshop for an audience of twelve.

Fast forward several months and Rachel has had several successful speaking engagements. She even had a PR person tell her that she is ready to be interviewed on television because she projects an air of confidence and competence! And all because she decided to face her fear and spent the time and effort necessary to improve her speaking skills.

It is my firm belief - and experience has not contradicted me - that while some people are more naturally comfortable with public speaking, EVERYONE can become competent at it, IF they spend the time and work on the right things. Yes, this means YOU, too! Make this the year you overcome your fear of public speaking and eliminate the roadblock in your path to success and confidence.

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com

No comments: