Is fear of public speaking holding you back? Why it's important and what you can do.

As a school-girl, answering questions and reading aloud - like many people - caused me angst, and stage-performance was avoided at all cost.  Hence I can fully empathise with those who find it problematic.  Thankfully these days are long gone but my later-gained NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (NLP) and SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY skills would have brought more rapid success than my clumsy self-help methods!

So when BBC.com's  'If You Only Read 6 Things This Week...' picked out the article "Is public speaking fear limiting your career?"  it caught my attention.  It explains that these inhibitions are extremely common and restrict career progress, and it gives tried and tested ways of over-coming the hurdles.  

Whilst the article is limited in the NLP techniques it mentions it includes the standard ones of breaking limiting beliefs, reframing thoughts and rehearsing using enhanced visualisation.  The latter is used to develop new neural pathways so we can replace fear with new ways of doing and having confidence in these situations.  Of course being sufficiently prepared is a must-do... having noted the key points and learned the few sentences that trigger what you want to say for each is usually enough.  That said, taking time to find out what works for you and rehearsing in front of others will better ensure a pleasing outcome. And, naturally, frequency of speaking publicly (and reflecting upon it) will sharpen skills.

Breezing to professional presentation skills

Breezing to professional presentation skills

We probably know instinctively that communication is important but the article states that top recruiters look for "oral communication and presentation skills" as two of their top four requirements.  "Exposure" - such as making a presentation in person or video-link, taking a lead role, being on a committee and so on - is also mentioned as being particularly influential in career success.  Clearly then if you have a hang-up about speaking publicly you would do well to address it sooner rather than later to succeed in the competitive employment environment.  After-all, your first step into an organisation is typically through evidencing your suitability by demonstrating skills on a CV or application then an interview which increasingly includes a presentation of some sort.  Once "in" you have to continue to shine to progress.  And self-employed people know that their personal communication and social/media presentations are essential in driving business.

It is worth elucidating on the article's point that "good communication" means getting your message over to the audience/listener.  A bit of personality and being succinct will take you far. Take the singer Adele as an example... I doubt she would land a job as a newscaster, but she relates to her audience with presence, warmth, gestures and ease. Again, these are skills that can be learned.

You will have seen that there is a way forward for those who find public speaking a daunting task.   I would be delighted to provide coaching with NLP by Skype/Facetime or in-person for this.  Hypnotherapy has additional techniques but is available only in the clinic for ethical reasons.  To start the process of changing your thoughts, feelings and performance, please get in contact with me by email or phone!

Here's a link to the BBC.com's article by Tim Smedley: "Is public speaking fear limiting your career?"