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Squash That Public Speaking Phobia!

Submitted by Ila Langner on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:00 PM
Conference room with attendees sitting in chairs in the foreground and speaker and screen in the background.

When I was going to school, I had a few uncomfortable public speaking experiences that eventually developed into a phobia.  By the time I was in college, I lived in deep fear of any public speaking assignment, even if it was months away.  If you have a phobia or an anxiety, you know that feeling of butterflies in your stomach!

Nick Hedrick, our library trainer, taught another useful webinar, this time about communicating confidently when doing a presentation.  He included a course called Communicating with Confidence by Jeff Ansell from is a library eResource that you can use, too!

Getting Your Audience’s Attention

According to Nick, Albert Mehrabian's three V’s that you should consider when presenting, which will affect whether people like your presentation:

  1. Visual (appearance):  dress professionally
  2. Vocal (sound):  sound like you mean it
  3. Verbal:  your words.

Interestingly enough, visual aspects are the most important to listeners, then vocal, and lastly, verbal.

Overcoming Anxiety

Being anxious about public speaking is a common phobia and expresses itself in a fight or flight response, according to Nick.

Jeff Ansell says that you may be unwittingly send a message to your audience that you are an unreliable expert, if you exhibit “leakage.”  Your body will leak your nervousness through fidgeting, talking too quickly, swallowing, and pursing your lips.

When negative thoughts enter your mind, remember:

  1. Your message is more important than you and
  2. Fake confidence until you feel confidence.

Designing Your Delivery

Here are some of Jeff Ansell’s tips for feeling confident during your presentation:

  • Practice with cue cards until you can speak extemporaneously.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Ujjayi breathing:  While exhaling, pull belly in and while inhaling, push belly out.  Emphasizes lower chest breathing, which promotes relaxation.
  • Be deliberate:  focus on thinking and delivering short, simple sentences, use pauses to draw audience’s attention, maintain eye contact with individual audience members, and use emphatic hand gestures.

Remember, be deliberate with your message, which will automatically slow your delivery and convey confidence!

Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction

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