Fear of public speaking?

Seven easy steps to help get you on the road to recovery

Recently I’ve come across several articles about communication skills in early education settings. One that stood out to me was by Erik Palmer in EdWeek titled “Why Schools Need to Do a Better Job of Teaching Speaking Skills,”  which surmised that if there was more of an emphasis on oral communication skills during formal education years (K-12), the fear of public speaking would be lessened as an adult. The second article by Stacey Roshan, titled “How One Teacher Champions Student Reflection with Technology and Public Speaking” appears in EdSurge. Roshan discusses how Zaption, the video-based, interactive learning tool, can be used to help students improve public speaking skills.

Of course, as with any skill we wish to develop, the more we practice, the better we become at it. And, the younger we are when we tackle a new skill, the easier it is to master. The common theme between the two articles is that practicing oral communication skills is key to overcoming public speaking fears. But, taking steps to overcoming speech anxiety can begin at any age.  Removing the fear factor can seem daunting but here is how to get the process started in seven steps:

  1. Commit to making a brief presentation, 5 minutes or less, once a week for six weeks.
  2. Pick a topic you are comfortable with. It should be something fun, such as a hobby, concert recently attended, a movie, a favorite vacation spot, etc.
  3. Pick a trusted friend or two to be supportive allies and the audience for these informal presentations.
  4. Have a clear goal, such as encouraging the audience to visit a specific vacation destination.
  5. Use a smartphone, tablet, or other device to record yourself giving the presentation.
  6. Stand when you speak and look at your audience, not the recording device.
  7. Review the presentations with supportive friends and identify areas of strength and note what needs improvement.

Focus on addressing one of the areas for improvement in each of your next short presentations.

In the famous words of Zig Zagler “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”

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