Many people face the fear of public speaking, which can lead to significant problems in their lives. According to data from the British newspaper Sunday Times, the fear of public speaking is among the greatest fears in the world, surpassing even fear related to financial issues, illness and even death.
There are several reasons why this fear can arise: fear of making mistakes, lack of self-confidence, past traumatic experiences in communication, overcontrolling parents, difficulty in dealing with hierarchies based on childhood experiences, among others. Faced with this scenario, Fran Rorato, communication and oratory specialist, founder of 2Talk Show and CEO of Vox2You São Paulo, gathered 5 tips to help those who are afraid of public speaking.
According to Fran, to overcome the fear of public speaking, it is necessary to identify all the points that cause fear and expose the person to these fears in a continuous and controlled way, in order to gain more and more autonomy and control when performing this task. In short, the process involves the use of techniques, training and self-knowledge. The expert claims that it is entirely possible to completely overcome the fear of public speaking.
Looking for a course to help in this overcoming process can be an alternative. However, Fran warns that not all speech training will be effective and help solve the problem. For example, online public speaking courses are not as effective as face-to-face courses, as they do not provide the controlled exposure that fearful people need.
How do you see the fear of public speaking and why do you think so many people have this fear?
I see the fear of public speaking as a growth constraint in all areas. It is the result of upbringing and past experiences that shaped the personality, weakened confidence or even imprinted traumas on a person.
From your point of view, what are the main challenges faced by those who are afraid of public speaking?
The main challenge is certainly to show your value and competence. Many people accumulate a heavy baggage of courses, MBA’s, other languages and simply do not know how to communicate this burden of knowledge.
You mentioned the importance of self-awareness in combating the fear of public speaking. Could you explain how self-knowledge can help in this process?
When we understand who we are and the ties that inhabit our interior, it gives us the possibility to work on these issues. When I say that the difficulty comes from our history and our past, it is directly connected with the emotions that we carry from those moments. If we manage to reframe these memories and emotions, we can have a breakthrough in communication.
Breathing is one of the tips you mentioned for managing public speaking anxiety. Could you tell us a little more about how proper breathing can help to deal with fear?
Anxiety and accelerated breathing are given by an escape process triggered by our brain at a point called Amygdala. This “tool” of our body is responsible for our decision to face or flee in the face of challenging situations. When we have the belief that speaking in public can bring us something bad, or affect us in a harmful way (it comes with thoughts: I will make a mistake, they will laugh at me, I will not succeed, I will be ashamed, etc..), this Amygdala is activated for an escape. So, working on breathing properly reduces this process of activating the Amygdala, oxygenating the brain more and bringing more lucidity to the words and the dimension of the challenge to be faced.
Preparation is one of the crucial steps to a successful presentation. What are your recommendations for properly preparing before a presentation?
Script and training. Understanding and mastering what is going to be said and chaining these ideas together in a logical and cohesive line is the first step towards success. Then practice out loud. It is no use just thinking about what will be said, as there is an enormous cognitive space between thinking and speaking. The best way to assimilate something efficiently is verbalizing it. The chances of something going wrong are very low when you have mastery of the content, a good script and a lot of training.
The use of a script is one of the tips provided by you. How to craft an effective script and how can it help prevent blanks and keep the presentation flowing?
There needs to be coherence between ideas. One idea needs to lead to another, and they all have to cling to a central skeleton. A well-crafted script is what makes the viewer feel like they are on a journey while listening to you. And obviously, if you know where you’re coming from and where you’re going, the chances of whites are zero.
Training is key to improving public speaking skills. Could you share some specific strategies or exercises to train public speaking?
I believe that filming and watching it is something truly rich for anyone who wants to start training their oratory. Observe if the body is talking with your words, if it is natural and at ease. Watch the words, the way you pronounced them, how you formulated an idea, if your gaze remained on the lens, if you put a lot of shards, slang and so on… you can learn a lot just by watching.
You mentioned that not all speech training is effective in combating the fear of public speaking. What are the essential elements that a public speaking course must have to be really effective?
A public speaking course, to be effective, demands controlled and constant exposure to the challenge of speaking in front of other people. Online training, for example, can add a lot of knowledge, however, they do not develop the emotional and expository character, in addition to not having feedback, that is, the person can spend years training in error.
What is the difference between online speaking training and remote training? And why is the remote format more effective for those who are afraid of public speaking?
The online are trainings in which people attend classes on digital platforms and try to extract concepts and techniques for application in everyday life. The remote is very different, as the student learns in a personalized way – there will be another person (a teacher) on the other side, live, to share concepts, see you performing the exercises and ready to make corrections and improve performance.
How have you helped people overcome their fear of public speaking through your training and mentoring? Could you share any success stories or rewarding experiences in this process?
Recently I had a student from São Luís do Maranhão who approached me because he was very shy and couldn’t pass a job interview. He is a trained engineer and never got an opportunity in the area. I carried out a process with him that was well based on self-confidence and gradually added the issue of public speaking. In 14 hours of class, not only did he get an interview at the company of his dreams, VALE, but he passed and is already working at the company. According to him, even the marriage has improved.
In our last class, we got emotional together and I believe he will forever be in my story and I in his. This, certainly, is one of the cases that not only lacked the technique, it was necessary to understand this human being as a whole. I believe that this is the big difference, really enjoying serving as a tool for transforming other people’s lives.
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