Presentation Skills Articles


Managing Public Speaking Fears

How a speech coach can help

Let's be candid. No one wants to stand in front of an audience and make a fool of his or herself. The very idea can give you nightmares for weeks in advance of a presentation. On the other hand, there is nothing that will benefit your career more than to stand in front of a group of people, connect with them, provide them with useful information or persuade them to take action. You may be a brilliant information technologist, lawyer, salesperson, scientist, or entrepreneur, but if fears and anxieties adversely affect your ability to communicate, you will not be able to inform, or influence others.

One of the best reasons to hire a speech coach is to help you manage fears and anxieties and make them work for you, instead of against you. There is no need to weaken the impact of an excellent message because the audience senses you are uncomfortable. As we grow older and gain more experience, we might expect to accumulate more confidence, but this does not always happen. If you do not speak on a regular basis, it is common to feel overwhelmed with negative thoughts. The D'Arcy Method will take you step by step through a process of preparation and intensive rehearsal so that you feel secure and even eager to share your ideas. I take pride in having successfully worked with many "hard-core" cases who are now confident presenters - their quotes can be found throughout this website.

Although there is no one cause for "stage fright," I have found that if my clients have acquired new job responsibilities that demand highly visible communications, fear of public speaking suddenly surfaces. It is critical to identify exactly what it is that you fear and then we can develop a strategy to manage that fear. Most fears are irrational and will never happen. Will you really fall in a dead faint in front of everyone? Will the entire audience get up and leave? By being realistic about the "danger" of the situation, you will have more control and reduce your stress response. A rational fear, such as forgetting what to say, can be minimized by several solutions such as notes, key outlines, or strong organizational patterns. Audiences like interactivity. You can ask for comments on your last point or how they feel about information on your next slide - even if it is out of context. Buy some time so that you do remember. The important thing is not to get rattled and maintain your composure. The audience may not even be aware you lost your place.

We may think that a large audience is responsible for creating our fears but they are not the culprits. Audiences want you to be good speaker. We create our own insecurities and fears. The inner dialogue that we have with ourselves is the demon that unleashes the physiological reactions of sweating, heart palpitations, shallow breathing, and a myriad of other discomforting reactions. I will help you understand fear, learn relaxation and visualization techniques, and how to monitor, challenge and consciously alter that inner dialogue, which, in turn, will alter emotions, physiology, and behavior. As you begin to understand fear and accept it as a natural part of your speaking experience, you will be able to more objectively observe and change your response. Speaking, like so many other skills, is a mental game and as your personal speech coach, I will give you the secrets and skills for playing this game successfully two weeks from now or ten years from now.

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"Of all the liars in the world, the worst are our own fears."

...Rudyard Kipling

"Look Fear in the face until he backs into the corner and applauds you!"

...David Leveaux,
Broadway Producer

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Jan D'Arcy & Associates
330 2nd Ave South #12 Kirkland, WA 98033     |    (206)-683-2982