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Is Your Fear of Public Speaking Standing in the Way of a Promotion?

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

ver the years, I have been contacted by numerous people who have confided in me that their fear of public speaking is the one obstacle keeping them from moving up the corporate ladder. Does that sound familiar?

I am saddened when I hear this because nervousness in public speaking is something everyone experiences. You are not alone.

How if effects you may be different than how it effects someone else, but if you admire those who seem to stand at the lectern and effortlessly deliver a speech or presentation, trust me when I tell you that they, too, are nervous: their stomach may be in knots and they may have dry mouth, sweaty palms, and knees that are shaking but you are not aware of their discomfort.

The difference between them and you is that they refuse to allow their fear to stand in their way. Indeed, those who are successful will probably tell you that their nervousness is a bonus because they allow it to work for them and not against them.

One of the marvelous qualities of man is his ability to overcome obstacles that prevent him from achieving his goal. Bear in mind, if your fear is holding you back, then your fear is in control of you. Isn’t it time that you took control of your fear?

That may sound easier said than done but if you take my advice, I am confident that you will discover the marvelous benefit of taking your fear and running with it, not against it.

Ask yourself what is the fear? What one thing frightens you the most about delivering your speech or presentation? For most people, their greatest fear is forgetting where they are and thus looking foolish.

On a few occasions, I have forgotten where I was in my presentation; and, because I usually ‘wing it’ I often have nothing to rely on. I have no notes to look at as a refresher, for example, to bring me back on track. It is indeed an uncomfortable situation to be in. The first time this happened my mind was going a ‘mile a minute,’ but I stopped, looked at the audience and apologized for losing my train of thought. Sounds unreal, doesn’t it?

Upon admitting my mistake, however, I immediately knew how to continue. The words were there. I attribute this ability to not only knowing my material very well but, more importantly, to being honest and not allowing myself to stand in front of my audience speechless. Was I judged poorly because of my lost train of thought? Absolutely not. If anything, it made me more human in their eyes. Did I feel foolish? No.

If fear is controlling you, the problem may be that you are expecting perfection in public speaking which is not realistic. Perfection in any live performance is subjective. If you expect perfection, then you will lose the battle and your fear will remain in control.

All great speakers, broadcasters, media journalists, and even Presidents and Vice Presidents make mistakes. It happens and is occasionally unavoidable. Do not allow your fear of making mistakes stop you. Instead of striving for that which is unattainable, why you walk up to that lectern and do the best job that you can?

In my next article, I will discuss the most important thing you need to do to take control of your nervousness and no longer allow it to stand in your way.

International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with
her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Voice Dynamic website.


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