‘Glossophobia’ – What is this you ask?

Many people have a fear of public speaking, so I thought I would share with you some of my top tips for overcoming this. As business owners and entrepreneurs, public speaking is something we often have to do, but didn’t necessarily sign up for. Whether it’s pitching to a panel for funding, leading a board meeting or giving a keynote, at some point we all stand up in front of a room full of people and try and prove that we know what we are doing and we belong up there.

‘Glossophobia’ is the fear of public speaking, I only found out this was the technical term during some recent research, so it’s a new word for me too

This is something many of us suffer from but have probably never heard of. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy and started making words up, it’s a real thing, I promise.

 

For some, this is easier than it is for others.

I have recently spoken about mindset, I have a growth mindset and have always enjoyed being front and centre. Standing in front of a room full of strangers, doesn’t fill me with fear, it excites me. However, I do have an irrational fear of buttons, not buttons on your clothes, but unfastened ones. Just writing about it makes me feel a little nauseous. But it’s something I’m trying to overcome, as I believe overcoming fear is an important growth opportunity in life.

 

That’s why I want to share my top tips for overcoming public speaking, so you can grow!

Before I dive in, I want to share a little story which helps create the basis of my public speaking tips. Let me take you back in time to my days at Clydebank High, more specifically my brief time as a member of the school’s Folk Music Club.

Now, I can’t sing, or dance and don’t really like folk music (I know, I know, what was I thinking). But I was asked to sing a duet with a friend and I didn’t want to let her down so I went on the stage in front of 400 people. This was a big mistake, the moment I opened my mouth I became tongue tied and if I had actually managed to sing, I’m pretty sure I would have forgot the words. Instead I left my poor old friend to carry the song all by herself, something she still likes to remind me of to this day.

So, what was this crippling fear that came over me? I didn’t know my stuff, I couldn’t sing or dance and I was aware of that. This leads straight into my first tip, you’ve got to know your stuff. I didn’t and as a result didn’t believe in myself and I let the fear beat me.

If you have a fear of public speaking, you have to face it.

So, here we go…it is time to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Follow these tips and I promise it won’t seem half as bad.

 

1. Know your content

Imagine presenting with no notes or no slides. Reading from slides or notes is boring. This is not delivering with confidence. Have a format, if you know your stuff you should be able to deliver it without any support from visual aids.

 

2. Open questions

I always talk about open questions, build your presentation around these:

  • What is your message?
  • Who are you – introduce yourself?
  • Where are you? Not just how is the business right here and right now in financial terms but also…
  • Where are you in the bigger picture – what is your staff turnover, who are your competitors, what are your strengths and weaknesses, where do you want to be?

 

3. Is it nerves that create this fear of public speaking?

This is the classic. If so, rehearse until you are blue in the face and follow these tips to the letter.

 

4. Remember to breathe

The more oxygen you get to the brain the more this helps you to feel calmer and feel more composed.

 

5. Don’t talk too fast

Pace is really important if you want to have any impact. If you have someone with you in the audience, use them to give you a signal if you need to slow down.

 

6. Humour

If you can add humour, then great. Avoid controversy obviously. This is a really valuable tool for engaging your audience. It also helps everyone relax, the more relaxed the audience and you are then the more smoothly everything will run.

 

7. Remember your purpose

Nobody knows what is in your presentation, so don’t start undermining yourself by saying ‘I wasn’t supposed to be saying this here but blah blah blah’. This is called ‘leakage’ and tells your audience that you aren’t quite in control.

 

8. They say picture your audience naked!

No way, this would put me off massively. At the Bath Expo one year, I did a half an hour talk with no slides when there was a tech fail. I was happy to do this, and told the audience that they were seeing me ‘naked’ (ie no slides) and they loved it. To this day, people come to me and say ‘I saw you naked at Bath Expo’.

 

Remember these tips and face your fear, don’t let it beat you! For more tips and support, join my private Facebook community for Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurs Can Clan. You can even watch a Facebook Live on this very subject.

You can catch me speaking with my fellow pal, Jordan Daykin at Business Showcase South West on 17th May.

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Alison Edgar

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