According to the "Speech Topics Help" website, some surveys and research results show that most people would rather die instead of talking in front of a live audience.
In its global fears or phobias top ten, public speaking or stage fright (Glossophobia) comes in at number one as the greatest fear of 19% of the population, while death and end of life (Necrophobia) is the top pick of 16% of the population. Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia) is third affecting 13% of the population, and so on through to Claustrophobia at number 10 or 3% of the population.
So where does this fear of public speaking come from and what can we do to overcome it?
There are a number of possible reasons a person could have a fear of speaking in front of an audience, ranging from the fear of making a mistake or rejection through to the fear of looking foolish or that others will find your presentation boring and a waste of their time.
Ultimately, though, many of these reasons can be traced back to a basic lack of confidence that can result in a perceived inability to communicate effectively in public - and one of the ways you can boost your confidence is by ensuring you are addressing all of the communication needs of your audience.
In order to communicate effectively, it's important to understand the languages and mindsets of the people with whom you are communicating. By taking into consideration the needs of each of the main thinking or communication styles of your listeners you can structure your presentation in such a way as to get your message across more effectively to most, if not all, of your audience.
According to the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument developed by Ned Herrmann, your audience will have 4 different modes of thinking - and each individual will have their own combination of these thinking modes. By addressing each mode you can be sure that you are addressing the communication needs of your entire audience.
The different modes are:
Analytical thinking, which requires your presentation to include background data, graphs, statistics and analysis that will allow your audience to judge ideas based on facts and logical reasoning
Sequential thinking, which requires a clearly laid out and communicated structure to both the presentation and the contents of your material. Things like details, time lines and step by step problem solving are important to the sequential thinker
Interpersonal thinking, which responds well to personal meaning, sensory input and group interaction. Things like testimonials of respected individuals and team benefits speak to the interpersonal thinking style
Imaginative thinking, which looks for visual, intuitive, innovative and conceptual messages. The long term, future opportunities and big picture are relevant to this thinking mode
Your ability to relate to your audience as a whole will make you more successful as a public speaker, with the long term benefit being increased confidence and comfort in the role.
About the author
Timothy Millett's training roles have seen him deliver programs across Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and America ensuring cultural sensitivity as well as a broad base of experience in lecturing, teaching and training.
A graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland, his hospitality career spans management and director positions in Front Office, Guest Relations, Public Relations, Food & Beverage and Training with organisations including the Regent of Melbourne, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Mövenpick Gastronomy. He was also a founding staff member of the internationally renowned Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia.
Tim is currently the Director of Training and Development at iperform, an organisation that specialises in Sales and Service, Leadership and Effective Personal Organisation programs.