Beat Your Glossophobia – Fear of Public Speaking

megaphone public speaking public domainI had a great talk recently with a woman who currently works for a major corporation but really wants to start her own business. One of the things holding her back is a very common phobia: she’s afraid to speak in public.

She knows that to get her own firm up and running, she’ll have to pitch it to a wide range of people. She’ll have to sell the idea to prospects and also talk to groups to increase awareness of her brand. For many, standing in front of people and making a presentation is cause for immediate panic.

But if you think a fear of public speaking dooms your chance at business success, I have two words for you: Warren Buffett. In his 20s, Buffett realized that to achieve the success he envisioned, he needed to be able to speak in public.

“You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under emphasize that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential,” Buffet said during an interview for Levo League, a career website for young women.

Buffet’s answer was to sign up for a Dale Carnegie course and the rest, as they say, is history. However, not everyone has a Carnegie Institute nearby, or can afford a course. Fortunately, there are other ways to overcome your fear of public speaking and also hone your presentation skills.

  • Just do it. In every endeavor practice makes perfect. If entrepreneurship is in your future, start out by leading a local group, even if it’s the PTA. Volunteer for opportunities at your current job to make presentations – they don’t need to know that they’re giving you paid training for your future ventures!
  • Join Toastmasters. The group has chapters all around the country; finding one near you shouldn’t be difficult. They also have a lot of online resources that should help kickstart your public speaking career.
  • Grab the local junior college catalog. If you’re going to be investing your money in startups, invest a few evenings in yourself first. Find a night class in speaking. It’s a very low cost way to take those critically important first steps.
  • Join a theatre group, acting class or workshop. All the world’s a stage and that includes the business world. Step outside of your comfort zone and find a way to inspire your inner thespian. Believe me, if you can get on stage and say a few lines in a local production of Our Town, you won’t have any trouble presenting your ideas to a group of potential investors.

Take any of these roads to increased public speaking confidence and you may find that you open up a whole new career for yourself . I speak at events constantly and believe me, it is very rewarding.

Try it, you’ll like it, eventually!

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