Unless you’re born with an innate desire to hog the limelight, speaking in public is usually way up high on most people’s list of what not to do. If given a choice, even the most confident people would rather stay behind the scenes than speak out in front of an audience. So what makes public speaking so undesirable?
Lone Ranger: As a thumb rule, we all feel safer in a group. So it’s no surprise then that standing all alone in front of an audience leaves us feeling vulnerable. Not only are you alone, you’re alone and facing a group, which further tilts the power balance (in your mind) in favour of the audience.
However, we often forget that the reason we were probably asked to address an audience is because we know something they don’t. So the power really lies with the orator.
Open Target: When the spotlight is on us, we instinctively feel that we are being watched and judged, which in case of public speaking is mostly true. However, in our minds the extent to which people are evaluating us is usually exaggerated. Plus, the mind tends to lean toward the negative and we almost always imagine that an evaluation translates into criticism.
We ignore the fact that we can also be appreciated for what we are about to share, and that an audience is not always out to get us.
Fear Factor: Many of us might appear confident to the outside world. But inside, we could be struggling with low self-esteem. When we secretly feel that we’re not good enough, we are always afraid that people around us will get to see our worst parts. So we try our best to hide our insecurities and fear.
We don’t realise that the only way to build self-esteem is to do things that build our confidence. Avoiding difficult situations only takes away opportunities for us to grow and learn, which in turn affects how we feel about ourselves.
There is no denying that public speaking is scary and it takes time and effort to be able to be comfortable in front of an audience. But it is also a skill that can be honed with practice. The best part? Once you get the hang of it, the rewards are plenty. Not only will you feel great about yourself, you’ll always be the one people turn to for inspiration. Doesn’t that make it worth the effort?