Bad Girl, Good Business

Stage Fright

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fear of public speaking  ranks up there with fear of bugs and heights.

Fear of speaking in public is called Glossophobia, and it even has its own website. As I was researching the topic, I found myself getting anxious just reading about the symptoms.

I used to be terrified of speaking in public…even raising my hand in grade school. Now I’m part of the 10% of the population who actually enjoys it. When I get “miked up” and know that the sound and projector work, I get that familiar adrenaline rush. (I am still scared of some heights and several types of bugs, however.)

I think I began to overcome my fears as I became more comfortable with what I was talking about and started to focus on the positive feedback I got (as opposed to fretting over that one person in the audience who gave me a stinky rating). Other tips for hitting (and leaving) the podium with a zen head on include:

  • Know your technology and or make friends with the techies onsite.  Nothing will fluster you more than your presentation suddenly vanishing before you’re about to take the stage.
  • Rehearse/rehearse/rehearse. Then rehearse again.
  • Stick to a few topics you really know well. Although I like to throw in a few new ones from time to time, I am much more at ease when I’m reprising an old fave.
  • Speak slowly and remember to breathe. I’ve even managed to eliminated most of the “ums” and “uhs” simply by pausing and thinking quietly rather than rushing through my talk.
  • Hang out with other speakers. Watch and learn from pros.
  • Get to know people in your audience beforehand. Rather than pacing the stage, I’ll talk to the people who arrive early, ask about what they do, and figure out a way to include them when I need “volunteers from the audience.”
  • Take your feedback forms seriously. Design your own if the place you’re speaking doesn’t provide them. The only way you’ll get better is if you take constructive comments seriously. (But you can ignore that one cranky-pants in the back row who probably doesn’t have anything nice to say about anyone and may even be terrified of public speaking himself.)

Want to see me speak? Here’s where I’ll be next!

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred How to talk like a TED Talk pro. 
BGGB_ShakingHands Ways to connect with your audience.
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred Bad PowerPoint habits.
BGGB_Pointer Things great speakers always do and the 10 Greatest Speeches (according to Time)









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