(DGIwire) – As many as 75% of all people suffer from the affects of glossophobia. Yes, that’s right: Glossophobia, or as it is more commonly known, fear of public speaking! For many, fear of public speaking is a fear greater than death. Fortunately the terror and sweats can be overcome. Like all obstacles in life if one chooses to make a concerted effort, enhanced communication and conversation skills…as well as general comfort over the symptoms can be accomplished. Visibility strategist Dian Griesel, Ph.D., president of an international public relations firm and author of the book Engage: Smart Ideas to Get More Media Coverage, Build Your Influence and Grow Your Business, offers these six essential tips to help conquer glossophobia. Griesel assures these tips will make anyone feel more confident in front of a crowd or just help with everyday communication skills.
- What to know. To be an effective public speaker, it helps to not only know the presenting material backwards and forwards–but to also be well-read and up-to-date on current events. Keeping abreast of current issues will not only increase credibility and perception of timeliness of a presentation, but also help anyone contribute intelligently to any conversation.
- Listening. People might ask questions during or after a presentation, or even come up to the presenter afterwards to chat about the speech. When lacking an answer, be honest and tell the questioner that information will be forthcoming at a later date. In a conversation, people can always assess who is actually engaged with what is being said versus those who are just smiling and nodding. More respect is gained and likely deeper conversations result for those who perfect active listening.
- Eye contact. It’s as important to maintain eye contact with a large group as it is in a one-on-one conversation. Even if speakers are reading from notecards, it’s always important to make it a point to look up at the audience after every other sentence or so. Smart presenters mark up their speech notes, just like actors do with scripts, to note exactly when and where they want to look up to better engage with their audiences. This small but significant strategy of eye contact will make even a novice speaker seem confident and help the audience connect with the message being relayed. The best presenters remember that a smile doesn’t hurt either.
- Kidding around. A little bit of humor can go a long way in breaking up a long speech or diffusing tension. As long as it is kept in good taste, humor makes presenters seem more likable and approachable. It also might encourage people to chat and propose new business relationships after the presentation.
- Me, myself and I. It might be awkward at first, but practicing any and every speech in front of a mirror will help every presenter to become more comfortable with his or her material. Another benefit is it gets the speaker even more comfortable with listening to their own voice aloud. Practice makes perfect. Further, during practice is the best time for a smart speaker to determine those spots in the presentation that might benefit from a rewrite or rethinking of certain words and phrases that seem awkward or likely to consistently trigger stumbles.
- Model. It is good to model a speech based on what has been observed from others who do well in front of crowds. Maybe it’s a community leader or teacher, or maybe it’s a public figure like the President or a celebrity. Maybe someone who’s given a top TED talk. Whichever the preference– watch closely and pick out those qualities that makes them a good speaker and try to emulate select traits.
Although these key elements might not be the complete resolution for glossophobia, they can bring every speaker one step closer to becoming a more comfortable and relaxed master orator.