When you listen to a speaker you haven't heard before, do you sometimes feel you can't concentrate on what's being said? Your attention wanders, you squirm in your chair, look at your watch, and start thinking about what you'll have for lunch. What is it that turns you off? Are you just not in the mood to listen? Or is there something the speaker is actually doing that makes it difficult or impossible for you to keep your attention focused on receiving his message?
When you're asked to give a speech, are you convinced the audience is there to judge you and find you wanting? Are you sure you'll forget something important, say something bass-ackwards, turn red from embarrassment, speak too fast or too slow, or generally show that you're totally lacking in confidence or competence? Do you endure hot flashes, cold sweats, upset stomachs, the shakes, and can't wait to get it over with?
Flash! You don't have to go through all that! The audience is not licking its lips gleefully to see you make fool of yourself. On the contrary, the audience is rooting for you.
Why is it that when some folks are asked to say something at a special occasion, their first question is, "Do I have to write a speech?" This is accompanied by raising their eyebrows in dismay and possibly wrinkling their nose as if at a malodorous smell. The underlying meaning is, "Please tell me I don't have to write a speech. Can't I just wing it?"
Why is 'winging it' never a good idea? And what's the big deal about writing a speech?
You need to write a speech for an important occasion. Whether it's a presentation for your company, the toast at a wedding, a send-off to a colleague who's retiring, or a memorial speech for someone you loved, you want to get it right. But at the moment you sit down to write the speech, you stare at the white page while a bunch of jumbled thoughts tumble through your head. Or alternatively you can't think of a thing to say. You have an idea how you'd like your speech to sound, but when you try to find the words to begin, all you feel is total confusion.
You're not alone. For many people, the fear of speaking in public is not getting up and talking. It's not knowing if they're going to say it "right".
In our technological world where texting, emailing and keeping up with social media seem to be the communication methods of choice for practically all of us, with so many electronic means at our disposal you'd think the need to contact each other the old fashioned way, face-to-face, would be rapidly becoming obsolete. What a surprise to find that when sharing information, people still want to look each other in the eye and hear a real human voice, which explains why many people are discovering that they really need to know the art of public speaking.
Where does the truism come from that some people would rather die than give a speech? Interestingly enough, it's not the actual fear of speaking. It's rather who is listening. Or more specifically, what does the audience expect while they're listening? And can the speaker live up to those expectations?
When asked what their number one fear is, most people say, "Being judged."