Public Speaking: Mastering the Phobia

Patrick MurphyBy Patrick Murphy | I have been with Sutherland since September 2013. Prior to that I worked in Agency Recruiting. I was born in England, and moved to the US in 1998. I attended SUNY Brockport and graduated with a bachelors in Business. Two qualities I prefer in leaders (and that I try to emulate myself) are candor and a clear sense of direction.

At Sutherland Global Services, communication skills are highly valued. We count on skilled employees to solve issues and process transactions for major clients. For us, dealing with customers’ needs is a 24/7 duty, and interfacing with those customers in a confident and professional manner is an absolute must. That’s why we can’t afford public speaking phobias to come between us and customer service excellence.

Fear of public speaking is quite common, and at times people can find the phobia very debilitating. In most professional’s careers, speaking in public is required and expected. If the fear is great, it can affect performance.

Symptoms vary depending on the person but often include:

  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Spikes in blood pressure
  • Anxiety about looking foolish or not performing well
  • Panic attacks

Given the symptoms above, it’s no wonder that many people allow their fear of speaking in public get the better of them. The effects on their wellbeing can be quite uncomfortable and hard to manage.

Many people with a fear of public speaking do their very best to avoid the stage whenever possible. But this is not the best way to handle the situation. It can impose limitations on your career and cost you memorable and rewarding opportunities throughout life. Instead, it is important to face your fears and anxieties head on, work through them, and empower yourself by becoming confident at speaking in public.

Here are four ways to overcome the fear of public speaking:

  1. Practice – Know your material

Anyone who has ever been told that “practice makes perfect” will already know this slice of advice. Being unprepared for any task will increase risk of failure. Make sure you know your material inside and out. You’ll benefit from a well-practiced speech or presentation. This alone can give many the confidence needed to take on their next public speaking challenge.

  1. Reflection – Talk to the mirror

Want to practice your speech alone, but need an audience to practice on? Try standing in front of a mirror. Not only will this give you something to focus on, but it can also help you become self-aware of any bad habits such as embarrassing facial expressions, poor eye contact, and weak posture.

  1. Baby Steps – Present over the phone first

If, like me, one of your major phobias is speaking in front of a room of people, try talking over the phone first. No one will see your blushed face or notice your leg tapping. It’s a great stepping stone to mastering public speaking.

  1. Attitude – Keep your chin up

It’s always important to think positively and visualize a successful outcome. If we invite negative thoughts into our mind we are inviting negativity into our world. This is also an effective technique during a speaking engagement. Think about something that makes you happy. It will keep you relaxed and in control of the moment.

Our employees are provided with professional development training to help them grow as leaders. This development includes a supportive but comprehensive public speaking aspect that has helped people like me to develop. Today, using the skills learned and the tips above, I am able to successfully help teach and mentor the next generation.

Check out our other tips for overcoming your fears of public speaking here!

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