Comedian Jerry Seinfeld says when it comes to a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy. Anecdotal evidence supports this and suggests that people rate public speaking as one of their top fears. But why?
Presenting is a time when you can be at your most vulnerable in your professional life.
It’s that moment when you have to perform or die. Our two biggest fears as adults are of failing or embarrassing ourselves IN PUBLIC! And every presentation occasion presents both these opportunities on a silver platter. To add to this potent mix, the exact moment you stand up to speak is when all your other insecurities are guaranteed to come flooding to the surface. Will they like me, I should have worn the other suit, does my bum look big in this?
Our response to this pressure is to become a low-resolution, shrink-wrapped version of ourselves. Which is why you often see normally funny, animated people turn into wooden robots when presenting. My mentor Matt Church, in his best-selling book Amplifiers advises: “If you focus on you when you speak, you are bound to be undone. Everything becomes an ‘I’ issue: “I am not prepared”; “I am not qualified”. These concerns are not the result of narcissism but the natural result of speaking in front of other people. The first step is to get over yourself.”
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