The Daily Challenge: Fear of Public Speaking


Fear of public speaking is more common than you think.

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Time to Read: 4 Mins

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is Death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” - Jerry Seinfeld

Fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias, believed to affect up to 75% of the population to some extent. The severity of discomfort public speaking causes ranges from slight nervousness, hand sweating to complete paralysis.

The reasons for fearing public speaking also vary. Some feel anxiety over being judged for saying the wrong thing, while others experience symptoms that prevent them from speaking concisely.

Public speaking, like other skills, is something we can train ourselves to become better at. But like with any other skill, becoming better at it requires intentionality and practice. It also requires identifying where your weaknesses lie.

Whether you are a confident public speaker or someone who would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy, most of us can become even better at delivering value when we speak. Follow the steps below to assess how you could deliver more value when you speak.

Step 1: Consider the questions below:

  • What does being a great public speaker mean to you? What does success look like?

  • What is the value of speaking in general?

  • What is the value-add when you speak?

Step 2: Identify someone you view as a great public speaker. Think through what makes this individual a successful public speaker? Consider what this individual does, or doesn't do that contributes to their success as a public speaker? For example think of tone, rhythm, gestures, energy, body language, interaction with the audience, language.

Step 3: Pin-point one thing you can start (or stop) doing to become a better speaker today. Consider the features of a great public speaker you identified in step 2. What one thing can you take away from these observations to improve your public speaking ability / help you feel more confident about public speaking today?

Pro Tip:  Though it might feel uncomfortable, watching videos or listening to a recording of you speaking in a public setting can help you identify gaps in your skills or things you could improve and become even better at.

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