SPEAKING FEARS - Public or Networking
Yes, this is the article that you have been waiting for.
This is the one that will tell you all you need to know about speaking to and in-front of people.
It will tell you how to use all those other articles and classes and books that you have read on this subject.
It will tell you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!
READ ON ...
I do not have a fear of public speaking. As a matter of fact the more people, the bigger the crowd THE BETTER. I find it easier to connect in a blur of faces and the "oneness " of community than to suffer the intimacy of networking and the awkward silences that come with it. Mind you, I could speak on behalf of another person ALL DAY LONG in WHATEVER SITUATION. I am a great wing person! However, when speaking for myself I find smaller audiences (especially of unknown persons) to be intrusive and uncomfortable.
I know myself to be a normally confident introvert that is easily over stimulated.
Reread that last sentence and focus on the first three words.
I KNOW MYSELF.
Yes BY TRADE I am a public speaker, minister, performance artist, arts administrator, and peer specialist. I am an entrepreneur. I have made my life's work and business interpersonal and public communications.
SO HOW DO I NAVIGATE THIS AND WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH A FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING?
In working and work shopping with people I have found that many of the fears, anxieties, and apprehensions I have are the same that people with a fear of public speaking have.
The awkward silences. Forgetting what to say. Suddenly doubting yourself. Feeling like the whole room is looking through you. Feeling like you don't belong. Feeling small. Feeling inadequate. Nerves. Feeling like no one wants to hear you.
All of this is FAR BEYOND simple discomfort. Yes, understandably many of us don't want to do things that are uncomfortable. But if it will help you grow and heal at some point we will. However interpersonal and public speaking fears carry something weightier than mere discomfort that will hold you back and suppress success.
I have managed to navigate my fears in 2 simple ways.
#1 - I know myself.
As I said before I know myself. In order to know myself, I had to learn myself. Learning myself means that I had to spend time in different situations to experience the feelings of unease, the awkward silences, the weird stares, etc. I had to be brave enough to learn what works for me in order to navigate these areas. Yes there are all the gurus in the world with all the methods in the world for effective communications, but until you put yourself in the situations and try the methods then make them your own, you don't know what works for you.
I apologize if you thought that I was going to give one of those step-by-step lists that starts with some sort of mechanical thing like a pre-crafted elevator speech or funny method like imagining people in undressed.
You're gonna hafta do tha hard work and LEARN YOURSELF.
Here is the thing that all of the "three simple steps to public speaking" gurus don't tell you ....
THERE'S NO SHORT CUT TO SELF CONFIDENCE!
And I am not ashamed to say, I am not always confident.
However, I know how I feel, what I feel, and what I need to be operational in almost any given situation (it's okay not to know sometimes). I know my personality. I am fun and loud and silly and loving etc. I am also serious and willing to have deep conversations at the drop of a hat if the right connection is present. I am open and willing to exchange smiles and feelings. As I said before, I am also an introvert. It all gets to be too much sometimes. This can make for weird behavior and bad communications.
With this knowledge I can effectively navigate pretty much any situation because I can make communications what I want them to be.
#2 - I Accept Myself as who I am, where I am, nothing more nothing less.
When you fully accept yourself (flaws and all) you are able to fully share yourself.
Sure I have room for growth and development, but I do not hold myself to unreasonable expectations.
I accept that there are some things that I can do and others that I am either not able to do or not good at.
I AM MYSELF AT ALL TIMES
I AM HONEST WITH MYSELF AT ALL TIMES
I know when I need a moment away. I know when I am over-stimulated. Maybe I need some fresh air or a bathroom break to pull it together, refresh, and finish strong.
I allow myself to be human.
I allow myself to fail miserably.
I allow myself to win at one-time interactions without expectation of life ties.
I allow long-term ties to organically develop.
I use 2 eyes, 2 ears, and 1 mouth EVEN DURING A PERFORMANCE.
(Part of eye contact is "checking in".)
Will every one have the same personality and communication style as me? No.
Will I mesh with everyone. No.
I can accept that.
I accept that there is nothing wrong with me.
This goes for ANY audience, no matter how large. They are just people, no matter how many. If a whole crowd isn't feeling me, or if I am not at my best, I am still human and I accept both my successes and shortcomings.
Bonus - Stick the dismount.
I have found that the key to effective communications is not always how it begins but how it ends. This is as true for the intimate moment as it is for the speech. The final words, actions, and expressions of a moment are what ends up stuck in a person's brain.
During a gymnastics routine when they stick the landing there is a bit of bravado. By this I mean the arms go up in the air, they turn a couple of times in different directions. Their audience is happy to have shared that moment with them no matter how good or bad the score was.
Remember this: no matter how good or bad you score your interaction; even through hurt, injury, anger, tears, etc; celebrate each moment you have with your audiences.
You made it through once again.