• Monday, February 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

How to overcome fear of public speaking(3)

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While some adults still dilly-dally on the issue of  public speaking, many children already have their ears on the ground, picking up everything. Or what can I say?- Last week while I was coaching a group of youngsters on public speaking, one of them asked,  ‘Auntie Chiamaka, is it true that for you to be a good public speaker, you must always imagine that your listeners are naked?’

Hmmmm…, the question hit me like a bomb. ‘ Who told you that?’, I managed to ask the little girl, amidst  laughter from other children in the class. She shyly said, “ I… read it somewhere…can’t remember where” she stammered.

It was such an interesting experience for me, but it was even tougher explaining to the little girl and other members of the class what that saying really implies.

Some attest this phrase to Patricia Fripp, a  public speaking expert and speech coach, others say it is an age-long practical way to overcome your shyness. It says “Look at everyone in the room and imagine them in their under-wears then with a private grin on your lips, start your speech”.

‘Well, you have 30 seconds to connect, so try to manage your nerves and be relaxed. So this is all about imagining something funny, to help you relax your nerves. It is about finding a personal story that connects you to your audience. It is about injecting some humour…’I continued to explain to my little student.

May I at this point introduce you to my 4th ‘C’ of public speaking;

(4)COMEDY: This is what it is all about. Once you get people laughing, they’re listening and you can tell them almost anything, says Herbert Gardner. Frances Harvey Green asserts that “once you get ‘em laughing and their mouths open, you can stuff something in”.  On my part, I strongly believe that Public speaking should be enjoyable, exciting and pleasurable. It is not a ‘do or die affair’. So go out there and have fun.

Don’t forget to carry your audience along. Know what to say and how to say it right and I bet you will forget to be afraid. See yourself as a “performer” who is on a mission to spice up a life. Humour with humility makes a great impact. You can script a joke to share with your audience.

You can overcome your fear of public speaking if you commit to it. Many of the supposed charismatic people you know battle with this same apprehension at one point or another.

The fact of the matter is that if you do not know what you are afraid of, it may not be easy to find a solution.

You must identify what you are really afraid of. Is it that you are scared of not knowing what to say? Are you afraid your audience will not like you?

Are you afraid of forgetting your points? Are you afraid of being judged negatively? Are you afraid of making mistakes? Are you afraid of the audience, their age and intimidating credentials?

When you pinpoint the source of your fear you are in a better position to address it accordingly. Confront your fear by speaking in public many times. Challenge your fears. Don’t just give up, the world is waiting to hear your voice.

CHIAMAKA BOBBY-UMEANO