When asked to identify their greatest fear, guess which one people most frequently mention? Public speaking in front of an audience! Unfortunately, it’s an important skill that is all-too-often deemphasized in schools, which is why many people don’t end up mastering it (if ever) until they’re adults and required to make public presentations in college or the workplace.
One reason we we’re reluctant to “put ourselves out there” in front of a crowd is our fear of saying something stupid or our mind going blank just in time for the punch line. This is why I rarely tell jokes in public and why I’ll always regret trying to memorize my wedding vows! Total public humiliation!
Why bother aquiring this skill (especially when it makes your palms sweat and your mouth go dry)? Statistics show that learning to master public speaking early helps students to perform better in college, as well as offering greater opportunities to be accepted into their top choice schools. In the marketplace, public speaking and related communication skills are big winners among prospective employers and can be significant factors in landing jobs and getting promotions. The ability to present yourself (and your subject matter) well in front of groups is a true career booster. In fact, both undergraduate and graduate business school alumni who attended the University of Minnesota placed oral communication at the TOP of a list of skills that were relevant to overall job success.
Speaking comfortably in front of groups is a skill that can be learned—I’m proof of that. And, acquiring this skill will help you immensely in life, especially in your career. If you’re not satisfied with your presentation skills, consider these pointers:
- Lower your expectations of yourself—you don’t need an orator’s eloquence to deliver a successful presentation.
- Take comfort in that you usually know more about your subject than your audience and only you know exactly what you want to say
- Recognize that most audiences want you to succeed and are on your side
- Avoid excessive detail
- Tell stories
- Show lots of enthusiasm and expression
- Try to have fun with it!
By learning to speak comfortably in front of groups, you’ll be better able to increase the impact of your hopes, dreams, desires, and goals for your life and the world around you. This important life skill will not only help you get ahead in life and accomplish your own personal objectives; it will help you make a difference in your workplace, school, community—perhaps even the world!
Are you comfortable speaking in front of groups? What hurdles have you needed to overcome to develop your confidence? Please share your experiences and advice with our online community by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you!