Planning 101 1st July 2014

Why we Fear Making Speeches

They say there are only two root emotions, fear and love and that every other emotion is a by-product of one of those two. When it comes to making a speech, fear is usually the dominating emotion that most people experience. There is something about being the only person standing in a room full of people, having all eyes in the room on you, and the attention of everyone within earshot, that can cause many people to sweat, can induce anxiety, and can be downright unnerving. The depth of that fear ranges from just a general anxiety and a sleepless night for some, after being asked or told to speak, all the way to people who suffer from social anxiety, introverted personalities, and glossophobia. No matter where you fall on the scale, the feeling can be overwhelming; why do we fear making speeches?

Why are you afraid?

The reasons most people fear speaking is because they are afraid of messing up, scared that they will forget their speech halfway through, or they are fearful that the crowd will not be engaged or entertained. Those people, and people in general are fearful of making speeches because they are simply, afraid of failing. Having a fear to fail is the same thing that keeps perfectionists from ever attempting to do great things, and keeps others procrastinating. Somewhere along the line, we decided that if there was any chance that something we attempted couldn’t be done flawlessly, that it wasn’t worth being one at all. The good news is, is that isn’t the truth.

Fear is a normal emotion

Feeling the emotion of fear is normal, it is a human emotion that at one time or another everyone feels. Recognizing that fear feeling is fine also, but what you do not want to do is to allow that feeling to overwhelm you, or cause it to keep you from making your speech. It is OK to be afraid to speak; fear is simply a story you tell yourself; it isn’t real. The best way to work through the fear, or to speak in spite of the fear, is to prepare yourself as best as you can for your speech, and surrender the thought that you will be perfect or speak flawlessly. The speech may go off without incident, but if it doesn’t, it is okay. Allow yourself to be courageous, feel the fear, and to speak through it anyway; people will remember the 99% of things you did correctly, long before they’ll remember the 1% you did wrong. You will find, that if you have prepared in enough time, if you have practiced your speech, and you are knowledgeable about what you’re speaking about, that will be conveyed to your audience. The only way you can fail at making a speech is to not give it. So, acknowledge the fear, do the work to prepare yourself, and silence the fear. The people listening to you are rooting for you; they want to hear what you have to say, so put the fear in your back packet, stand firm, and deliver.

Image courtesy of Michelle Hardy Photography