56% of people fear public speaking – How it can hold us back in business

I believe public speaking fear can hold us back in business.  

It’s often how someone presents themselves that prompts an audience to take action or not. It’s often how someone pitches a business that prompts a client to buy or not.

Building trust and connecting with other people is important for progression. When we connect with others and we’re trusted we’ve got more chance of getting the job, of being heard in a presentation, of winning the pitch, of being visible in a meeting.

People often trust others who are natural, relaxed and authentic.  When we get an idea of the real person behind the content we connect to the content.

The problem is that when you are faced with a sea of eyes looking at you and hanging on to each word you say, you might find it difficult to be natural, relaxed and authentic. You might feel scared. Your body language and voice could reveal a lack of confidence, a lack of credibility and give people completely the wrong impression of you.  Consequently you could miss out on opportunities.

We are human beings made up of vulnerabilities and there’s nothing wrong with being scared of presenting. I used to be and I know how it feels. There’s nothing wrong with fear. In fact it’s useful. However learning how to manage this fear can make a big difference to your outcomes.

I believe learning how to speak in public helps to define us, helps other people to understand our viewpoints, to hear us and see who we are.  If we avoid this, we are always open to other people’s assumptions and misinterpretations.

A presentation is an opportunity for you.

Sometimes we just need a little help and I’ll share with you my three favourite tips

1- CONVERSATIONAL: Keep it conversational.  Imagine you’re talking to a friend. Remember you are speaking to other human beings, however formal the environment.   Many people adopt a robotic persona when they present because they get nervous or they take themselves too seriously.   An audience will always respond better and listen more if you’re personable and reveal human emotion. Creating a closer connection with your audience will also feed your confidence while you speak.

2- POWER POSE: I love Amy Cuddy’s popular TED talk encouraging you to do some power posing before an event. By this, she means shoulders back, chest out, imagine a piece of string attached from the top of your head to the ceiling and get yourself into a powerful position before any challenging situation – interview, networking, presentation or meeting. Her research indicates that, by doing this for two minutes, you can increase your testosterone levels and walk into challenging situations feeling more powerful. Many years in this industry tells me this works!  One thing I would say, practice in the mirror some time so that you don’t end up imitating a pumped-up superman or a crazed superwoman in the interview!

3- SIMPLICTIY and STORY: Keep it simple and use stories.  In every day life, we don’t speak in bullet points do we?  For example, when we go on holiday, we don’t come back and say…

  • France
  • Skiing
  • Fun
  • Ate good food

If I spoke like that, you’d probably think I was really boring to go on holiday with and unnatural.   So why do we think speaking at people in bullet points, during a presentation, or pitch, is a good idea?  It’s not.  If you can use stories in your presentations and bring it to life with analogies and examples, you’ll take your audience on a journey and they are far more likely to sit up and listen.  A story provides emotion – this is what people connect with and that’s why people act on what you say. Plan your stories rather than a list of facts.

Change the fear into an excited and positive energy! Give it a go.

Speak Up & Be Heard is out now, priced £10.99. To find out more go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Speak-Up-Heard-Lindsay-Maclean/dp/199933650X/

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