Lale Byquist refused to let her glossophobia—i.e. fear of public speaking—stand in her way. Her method? “Learning everything about the fear of public speaking and ways to conquer it”. Her structured knowledge now makes up the website presentationskills.me.
This web article concludes the theme “Using oral communication to inform, inspire and instigate”.
Hi Lale! The way you present your story on the About page, it seems that you were an A+ student. My own (anecdotal) experience is that this category of students often sees public speaking as a huge challenge. Do you agree and if so: why?
I have never thought about this idea until you gave me a hint! Even though I don’t think there is a correlation between being a nerd and having a fear of public speaking, most A+ students just don’t have time to establish relations with peers. All people know that being a sociable person helps to overcome a fear of public speaking, so it might be a problem. All in all, it means such students might have problems with expressing their thoughts in public and, therefore, speech anxiety comes.
However, I know that my problem was not the fact that I was a bookworm, so it’s hard to agree with your idea although it’s a brilliant insight!
When you did the research for your website, what were the three most surprising insights?
Well, to tell the truth, the biggest surprise was that people fear public speaking more than death, and around 75% of people have speech anxiety. Can you imagine that 3 out of 4 people worldwide have speech anxiety once they need to speak in public?
It reminded me of lyrics: “He opens his mouth but the words won’t come out.”
It seems we all have been there, and it inspires! I wasn’t alone with my problem, and it was the best motivation for me – there are so many people worldwide who suffer from the same problem, so it means we can solve it! Just some efforts are needed.
Another interesting insight was that speakers have different stressful factors and coping with them affects the quality of your speech! Once you’re ready mentally for speaking in public, your speech flows naturally. What does it mean? You’re not afraid of failure – you have already accepted it even if it doesn’t come. So, keep calm and deliver a speech!
And, the last but not the least, insight is that your audience supports you. When I had a fear of public speaking, I was sure that people wanted me to fail! It seemed that they noticed all slips of the tongue and they were waiting for my stress to come out. However, the truth is another. People come to listen to your speech as they believe in your knowledge. They believe you can give them something valuable. After all, who wants to waste time on listening to boring and useless information?
Do you feel comfortable as a public speaker today? Do you still use your the protocols you’ve defined when you prepare a presentation?
Once I have got rid of my fear, I feel quite comfortable speaking in public. I understood that it was a silly idea to be nervous, and my knowledge and experience help me a lot when I go on the stage. However, I still prepare for delivering a speech, and I make some notes to look through if I forget something. Thomas Edison was right when he said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, so practicing is a key to success.
And I feel so much happy that I carried out my plans with overcoming this fear! When you’re not afraid of speaking in public, you perceive your audience as friends, and the speech goes easily.
Suggest a five step method for a student who is trying to cope with glossophobia!
Actually, people need to take just four steps to cope with glossophobia, and here is how to do it:
- Know your topic from A to Z.
The better you know your topic, the more you can say about it without preparations. I believe that most people, especially students who are hunting for good marks only, have glossophobia as their knowledge is vanishing if they lose the track of mind. Thus, you should understand the topic, know as much as you can about it, and then get ready for the next round!
- Prepare crib sheets beforehand.
Cheating is bad.Bah…It can give you a lot if you know how to use this art the right way. Being afraid of speaking in public, you don’t want to forget your speech, and having small crib sheets is the greatest helper. Moreover, you tend to remember more when you are writing, so try to make these papers with the help of hand writing.
- Practice a lot before delivering a speech.
As for me, I had glossophobia as I felt that people can’t make out what I’m talking about. Over the years, I’ve realized that articulation plays a big role in delivering a speech, and the most actionable way to hone these skills is to practice a lot!Once your speech is ready and you know it well, imagine an audience in front of you and start speaking! If you can record your speech, that’s great! It can help to understand weak points of your speech and avoid making mistakes in the future.
- Don’t dwell on your fear.
Although it’s hard to keep under control your emotions, you can become a happier person once you understand how not to dwell on your fear. Furthermore, most people don’t see that you’re nervous, and when you speak about it, you just attract additional attention and make your fear grow. Thus, take a deep breath and think about the above-mentioned statistics: ¾ of people have the same fear, and your audience doesn’t want you to fail. That’s for sure!
Let’s say you’re in the audience, watching a friend or colleague feeling uncomfortable on the stage. Is there any help you can give in that situation?
The most important thing is to keep silence. Most speakers have problems with delivering their speeches when they notice that their audience is whispering something or giggling (even if you don’t laugh at the speaker!).
On my website, I have the ‘About me‘ page where I told my short bio. I had a situation when my friends were laughing at me. And even though I overcame the fear of public speaking, that was the most awful feeling: not to have a support from your dearest and nearest.
Finally, who is your favourite public speaker?
You can guess him without any effort. Especially if I cite a part of his world-known speech: “I have a dream today…”.
Martin Luther King was a famous speaker who had a lot of ideas and insights in his heart. He taught to be passionate about the topic of your speech, and I bet it was the secret of his success.
Being grounded during delivering a speech, Martin Luther King became a person whom I draw inspiration from. I believe that he had oratory art in his blood as having such a powerful vocabulary, using the voice, and establishing eye-contact with the audience is a hard thing to do!
Dr. King was a person who changed the history and the world. He is the biggest inspiration for me, and his path shows me a lot. I have noticed that outstanding people always have difficult life path, but it’s the best way to grow as a person. And as for me, I try to learn from people like Dr. King to become better daily!
No matter what your profession is, the basis of all humans’ relations is communication, and having a fear of public speaking prevents you from living a happy life. Although it seems hard to defeat this fear, it’s getting easier once you have taken the first step toward it: understand the need of fighting against this phobia; don’t live with worries.
And I have a dream that people won’t suffer from their phobias which are just figments of the imagination.
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