Did you know that most people suffer from speech anxiety? *yawn* Of course you did. This statement surprises very few people. We all have seen those lists –substantiated or not—which rank fear higher than death. *duh* Tell me something new.
Okay smartie, did you know that fear of public speaking is called Glossophobia? Did I trip you up with that one?
Well, aren’t we off to a good start. Let’s turn this around.
Yes, fear of public speaking is real. Ingest these rapid-fire stats:
- 75% of people suffer from speech anxiety
(2013 National Institute of Mental Health)
- 10% of people love public speaking
- 10% suffer from EXTREME anxiety
- 80% feel very uncomfortable about it but find a way to get through it
(Forbes Magazine )
I’VE GOT 99 PROBLEMS AND THIS IS ONE OF THEM
So the majority of us have a problem here as far as achieving speaking success. A fairly major one considering that most people emit on average 15,000 words per day according to a University of Arizona 2007 study. If we estimate conservatively that 20% of those words are “public” in nature (work meetings, interviews, a chat with your boss, etc.), that number would come down to 3000 words.
So considering that on average people write 250 words (double-spaced) per A4 page. We are looking at about 12 pages worth of words per day that most of us sputter out in a state of anxiety.
Let that sink in. Yeah, that is a lot of talking and uncomfortable feelings. Yikes.
Wait a minute, 10% of people actually love public speaking? Oh right, these people were born this way right? They are naturally extroverted and thrive in the bright lights too, huh? Surely, we are referring to these types of people and or the true professionals who routinely find speaking success. These individuals have a different way of gliding through life than the rest of us right?
The answer is yes and no.
First the no. Have a peek at a TED talk entitled the “The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain”, a self-professed introvert and NY Times best-selling author. Her TED talk is in the top 20 of all time most viewed presentations. Not bad for someone who considers herself much less social than others eh? To have gotten these results, I can assure you that she was able to deftly manage her emotions. Susan would probably agree that she was NOT born to deliver speeches in front of thousands, nor was she a pro when she took the stage.
However, she was able to adopt a different mode of thought as compared to the average person. A line of thinking that would allow her to appear to effortlessly dispense her thoughts on stage with little trouble. In essence, she learned to exercise two different powers that when combined, can have massive effects on the quality with which we are able to give outstanding presentations—on whatever scale.
Passion + WHY = Public Speaking Superhero Powers
Yes, Susan was acting on her passion and she was answering the WHY to what she was doing.
Susan and many other great speakers have taken the time to unearth their own personal reasons for what they do. These types of people know exactly what their end goals and objectives are for whatever they do. They know WHY they are doing what they are doing.
The POWER of WHY
Let me give you an example. Apple has been a dominant force for quite some time. They are a company that answers the WHY better than most. They start first with a passion for delivering innovative products that delight customers. They just so happen to make computers and phones. This runs counter to most companies, which pump up the ‘what’ in their activities or products.
This is a major distinction. People get behind the former and not the latter. What an intuitive thought. It’s so good that I wish it were mine. Alas, it is not–not even the example–Simon Sinek nailed this a few years back. Have a listen if you want further proof of Sinek’s concept. His talk is most excellent.
The POWER of WHY + PASSION VALUES
Okay, well here is where I add my own thought ingenuity to this theory. I believe that world-class speakers are guided by their passions which are connected to core values. These values essentially are guideposts, which direct their actions and give clarity as per what to do and WHY to do certain things. How about a concrete example?
Sure, I thought you’d never ask. A speaker who has little trouble delivering when it counts may have a collection of core values such as education, generosity, joy, self-realization, and freedom amongst others. Now, these core values once again are like markers which guide the speaker throughout life. They can be especially helpful in the context of performing an action that is not so easy to do. *cough..public speaking*
If this person has a speech to prepare for and values education, he or she can find motivation in that by giving this presentation, he or she will ultimately be spreading a new and educationally relevant message to others. This notion of spreading awareness could also fill their goal to be generous too. Nice, two altruistic values fulfilled.
Now, giving this speech could also be on a topic that is not so straightforward or easy to understand. It may require a degree of self-study in advance. Oh, but wait, this person values personal development. Learning something new, check!
Finally, this person highly values freedom. Maybe that means financial or time-related liberties. Well, in delivering a knock-out presentation–or a few of them–over the course of a year, that could lead to some serious career advancement. In achieving in front of others, they could very well be moving closer to that notion of freedom. Are you following? The key is that this superhero speaker has a degree of self-awareness in that he or she knows what is most important to him or her.
ENTER THE CRITICALITY of PASSION VALUES
These people are essentially tapping into some deeper motivations. These internal drivers are what I like to call Passion Values. *Sinek, I beat you to that one.*
The awareness of self-identified Passion Values allows the speaker—who could be professional or beginner—to continue to hone their craft or simply develop it from scratch in a superior manner. The difference between these superstars and the average person is to which level of veracity the successful individuals go after their own personal skill development.
Now, even if a skillful speaker has a certain anxiety towards public speaking, they will be counter attacking it by focusing on deeper motives. Does this mean that fear or anxiety will magically disappear? No, not at all. However, what it does ensure is that the drive to address it is real and built on solid principles.
So, this approach will ultimately fuel the person’s skill development, which unto itself, also addresses the fear by allowing the person to gain a greater sense of confidence in an accelerated manner. Resultantly, speaking success is derived.
Are you keeping up? If this sounds a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry. I have your back. I did create a thorough and FREE workbook resource guide entitled“Discover Your Public Speaking Powers Workbook.” You can grab it here below by clicking on the image:
SKILL BUILDING ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
Conversely, let’s look at what happens to most people who fear public speaking. Well, they seek out advice, usually in the form of online information or books. Some of these people might even take greater action by joining Toastmasters or even hire a coach. However, their motivations to speak are in most cases very superficial, such as bosses’ orders or even worse, guided by the fear or anxiety itself of giving the presentation. Some of the most motivated individuals will invest their time and energies into skill-building techniques and exercises like the ones listed below:
- speech writing techniques
- mental and physical release
- serving the audience needs
- vocal technique
Professional speaking coaches will listen to someone express their areas of weakness and promise to build them up. In turn, this builds confidence and addresses the fear. Great! Problem solved!
Not so fast.
Let me tell you, this is not a good path to be on. What do you mean?! Why? The student is improving, they are addressing their fears you say.
I am not saying these skill development modules are not needed. They surely are and are critical to becoming a better speaker. However, the missing step that many coaches and writers ignore, overlook or frankly discount is the one which will allow you to go after each skill set with added POP. This missing step is ALL ABOUT connecting to your Passion Values.
The problem is that people with no idea what their personal Passion Values are, will blindly attack these individualized skill development techniques and not ever really know WHY. Does that mean they will invariably fail in public speaking? No, but the quality or level of speaking success they achieve will be held back by having no meaningful purpose attached to their objectives.
Again, if fear or anxiety is the motivator to improve for these people, then the risk of perpetuating this unwanted emotion is almost guaranteed. They will probably get by and handle their speaking engagement much like the 80% noted in the Forbes article I referenced earlier, but they are most certainly not maximizing their potential.
Let’s put this another way. Imagine that you are on an airplane with two engines. Your goal is to zip through the clouds and reach your blissful destination. Now, let’s say I can strap on two extra engines. Do you think that extra power could propel you to your personal oasis that much faster and efficiently? You betcha! That is the power I am talking about when I refer to this notion of getting in touch with your WHY and Passion Values.
Still not convinced? Do a Google search of your favorite public figure—speaker or not—and type in the words, “passion” next to their name. In almost every case, you will find out at least one value they deeply connect with in relation to their success. Hey, these people are public figures for a reason. They have optimized their abilities to succeed. They have Passion Values, so should you!
WHERE DO I GET MY PUBLIC SPEAKING SUPERHERO SUIT?
The best part about uncovering this realization is that you CAN harness this ability too. You can have access to these public speaking super-powers. You can step out of the 75% and become one of the few who breakthrough.
I have even made this step even easier for you. Here’s a little secret. One of my Passion Values is hinged on empowerment. I want you to improve. I know you can improve AND I will help you improve.
Grab my “Discover Your Public Speaking Powers Workbook” shown below. This resource will allow you to identify your Passion Values. This workbook may even take less time to complete than reading this post did. More importantly, it will surely get you on the right track to becoming the speaker you know you can be. Your speaking success hinges on your ability to get clear about your deeper motivations and objectives.
So what do you say? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic.
Finally, I’d be honored if you shared your comments or felt inspired enough to blast any part of this post out into the social sphere!