May 1, 2007

This is why a little public speaking anxiety is a good thing

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, public speaking coach Jeanette Henderson talked about her system of grading presidential candidates on their public speaking skills (videos and analysis of each speaker are at the end of the article).

Politicians, who make a career of public speaking, often have lost their nervousness when giving presentations. According to Jeanette (and I agree), this can be a huge problem.

"People who have finally gotten comfortable think they are successful, they have arrived. If they can get in front of a group without their stomach turning over, they don't have to do any more," she said.

"They have overcome fear so they quit learning. They think a trained monkey can do it. That's what happened to the art of oratory.

"So you have people who specialize in messages but don't specialize in presenting.

A little bit of nervousness motivates a speaker to keep improving. A little bit of anxiety gives a speaker energy and edginess on the podium.

It's not necessary to eradicate all fear; as I've mentioned in the past, elite athletes feed off of the adrenaline rush that pre-performance jitters bring. That adrenaline rush pushes them to achieve great things.

It's the same for speakers. Be afraid. Be a little afraid.

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3 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

This post scares me.

Unknown said...

Actually, I experienced this a few weeks ago. I am so comfortable in front of our congregation. I am completely relaxed. I then had a wedding to do of a couple in our church. And I didnt think about the event enough and was really unprepared for the near anxiety of doing a wedding and trying not to screw up their life long memory. I hadnt planned on it being a new venue, completely different people, different time of the day, having to wear a suit, and doing somewhat canned material. I was ill prepared for that bit of anxiety. Fortunately, I amm very good at using humor to diffuse most situations. I have another wedding this weekend. I am much more prepared for being anxious. Just a little.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Tony, I know you're good at thinking on your feet. Not really something you want to rely on when you're doing a wedding, but it got you by in a pinch! It was probably good to shake things up a little for you.

I'd much rather be a little anxious than too relaxed. If I'm too relaxed, I'm not prepared for things that might go wrong!

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