Have you ever been paralysed by fear? Many people find public speaking such a frightening thought that they will do almost anything to avoid it.
What if you had more hurdles in life to jump than most? Would that be a good reason why you should not work on overcoming your fear of public speaking?
I was recently asked to be a guest judge at a speaking contest for a special group of people. Many of the contestants have Down Syndrome yet none of them allowed their 'disability' to deter them from performing at their best.
I love the expression that I heard in a client's organisation which works with people with disabilities:
Don't 'dis' my ability
The contestants lived that expression. Many of their speeches highlighted their need to be heard as individuals and as a group. Each person who participated in the contest had overcome their own fears of public speaking.
By participating in a structured program and learning from each speaking experience they were able to perform well on the day – in front of family, friends and total strangers.
Speaking in front of a group with the added pressure of participating in a contest is daunting for most people. Yet these inspiring people made it look almost effortless. To arrive at that point, they had made a commitment to overcome their own individual hurdles.
As with any speaker, the hurdles these speakers had to overcome included:
- Channeling their nervous energy
- Structuring their speeches to appeal to their audience
- Using their voice effectively
- Overcoming distracting mannerisms
- Speaking within their allocated time
As a judge at the contest I was impressed by each speaker's ability. Deciding who would be the winner of the contest was difficult.
Their achievements reflected a quote by Susan Jeffers: 'Feel the fear and do it anyway.'
Each contestant had overcome the fear of public speaking to stand and deliver stellar performances.
How you can overcome speaking hurdles
The first step is to make a commitment to improve your public speaking and then take action to do so. Here is a selection of articles on presentation skills providing answers to common questions and tips that may assist you:
- 7 commonly asked questions answered
- Structuring your speech or presentation
- Improving your speaking voice
- Designing effective powerpoint slides
- Timing for a presentation
Imagine the possibilities if you could overcome your communication hurdles – in particular, public speaking.
Would it mean a promotion, new clients or the confidence to communicate more effectively with your colleagues?