Public speaking: Fear is not your enemy

By Pepper Peale
October 24th, 2017

It’s that time of year.

Freddy, Chucky, Carrie and the rest of the deceivingly cutely-named characters populate our entertainment, clothing, décor and world. Halloween-fueled stimulus is everywhere. And fear is a critical part of that fuel. And the candy.

So let’s be clear. I do not like to be scared. I do not find it exhilarating. I hate scary movies. I even hate the scary parts of old happy movies. Read: flying monkeys, Nazis scaring nuns or a cartoon mirror on the wall (just to name a few of the times I STILL close my eyes, as a matter of course).

I like to be in control. I am an “in charge” type. Love it or hate it. It’s true. I’ve come to terms with it. And frankly, so should you.  (See what I mean about control?)

At any rate, that is why we help people to overcome a very common fear of public speaking. Frankly, I don’t think anyone really fears the “speaking” part of that. It’s the “public” part that is scary. And actually, we fear public embarrassment. And taking part in professional spokesperson training is great way to not just overcome, but to harness that fear.

Take this little test. Try to remember when you were a child playing hide-and-seek. You are hiding in the perfect place. There is NO WAY “it” will find you. You sit quietly, listening intently. Has anyone else been caught yet? Is “it” nearby? Should you hold your breath or take slow/low even breaths (so your breathing doesn’t give you away)? Has everyone else quit the game?

Can you remember your heart racing a little? That’s adrenaline.

It’s the same chemical your body produces when you are about to speak in public.  Some call it nerves. Some call it stage fright. I call it essential to a great presentation. Use that feeling to prepare thoroughly. To get trained. To practice with your colleagues beforehand. To OWN the microphone.

Frankly, if you don’t get that “almost found” adrenaline rush, you are probably not approaching that speaking opportunity properly. It’s good to be nervous. It’s good to question why on earth you agreed to present. It’s good to let your heart race a little. It’s good that you feel “almost found.”

Adrenaline rocks. Be calm, but let adrenaline make your presentation rock too. Don’t let fear keep you from success.

Halloween and scary movies make my heart race. Public speaking may do that do you. Prepare thoroughly, close your eyes, breathe deeply and when it’s over — eat the candy.

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By | 2017-10-24T18:03:29+00:00 October 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Public speaking: Fear is not your enemy

About the Author:

Pepper has nearly three decades of strategic communications experience, in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. From internal communications to website content creation; from social media engagement to local, regional and national legacy media relations, she is an enthusiastic team member and a budget-conscious team leader. The spectrum of her client experience includes B2C and B2B, spanning tech, foodservice, hospitality, chemical, regional business development, special events, new product roll-outs and social services.

Pepper’s experience in identifying, targeting and engaging audiences is wide and deep. She also has international expertise in training and mentoring corporate spokespeople for investor meetings, presentations, media interviews and crisis communications.

Over her career, she has learned that just providing the work proficiently is not enough. Thoughtful planning to reach identified goals (on time and on budget) and the creation of targeted measurement matrices makes the work better and more meaningful.