I come from a family who has the Irish gift of gab and I don’t think any of us would say fear of public speaking is big on our list of phobias. I wouldn’t rather be dead, that’s for sure. I do get plenty nervous though. Usually that is much earlier in the week leading up to the speaking engagement when my presentation hasn’t yet come together. It’s just a hodge podge of images and ideas searching for a hook to hang themselves on. Until I figure out the hook I am very nervous.
It really isn’t a fear of speaking in public. It’s a fear that I won’t be ready, that I won’t have done my job to inform, entertain or enlighten my audience. But once I do find that hook I start to organize the presentation and can start to practice it. Then the nervousness dissipates and confidence that I can do it builds.
My first practices usually are before I am done, maybe just the first third. But the act of practicing it is often the activity that helps me discover the unifying series of words (the hooks) that will make the ideas and images have some logic and purpose behind them. It all starts to lead somewhere in other words.
A couple of days before the presentation I usually am starting to practice the whole thing, timing it and making changes in imagery and flow to make sure what I am saying is as clear as I can make it within the time allotted. In my last presentation I was practicing in my car in the parking garage an hour before I was due to be on stage. That last run-through made a big difference in my confidence.
Do you suffer from fear of public speaking? If you do, what do you do to overcome it?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote is an adaption of one by Jerry Seinfeld, 1954-not dead yet, American comedian