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5 Reasons Your Fear of Public Speaking Is An Advantage

        posted by , December 14, 2012

There are only two types of speakers in the world.
1. The nervous
2. Liars

~Mark Twain

If you have a fear of public speaking, you're not alone. Approximately 75% of people will admit to being nervous speaking in front of a crowd.

Fear of public speaking has afflicted many of the greatest speakers in history.

It's known that Winston Churchill had a tremendous fear of public speaking. Early in his political career he would spend hours preparing for each speech. With time, he improved.

churchill wwii

At the peak of his career, Churchill could give eloquent impromptu speeches — several of which are credited with changing the course of history.

There are at least 5 reasons that a healthy fear of public speaking is a weakness that can be an advantage.

1. You'll need to be enthusiastic

In the early 1960s, military aircraft test pilots were lost at a rate of approximately 1 man per week. It was the height of the Cold War arms race and the need to deliver exceeded safety concerns.

Test Pilot was the most dangerous career on the planet. It attracted a special breed of pilot such as Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong — men who seemed to have no fear.

Test pilots became the first generation of astronaut because they could blast off on top of an experimental rocket without a fear response.

Neil Armstrong flew over 200 different models of aircraft including experimental supersonic jets. He reached a top speed of mach 5.74 (6,420 kmh ~ 3,989 mph) and was involved in several incidents that almost claimed his life. In one incident he ejected from a landing craft that crashed 0.5 seconds later. He walked away and was flying again the next day.

The public was naturally fascinated with the bravery of the first astronauts. What made them tick? How could they possibly feel no fear flying experimental supersonic aircraft and rockets?

The answer from numerous interviews with the pilots themselves is clear: they let their enthusiasm for flying exceed their fear.

I thought the attractions of being an astronaut were actually, not so much the Moon, but flying in a completely new medium.
~ Neil Armstrong
The best way to overcome any fear, including public speaking, is to be so enthusiastic that you barely notice your fear.

2. You'll need to prepare

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
~ Stephen King
Those who have no fear of public speaking are less likely to prepare for a speech or presentation. By developing a habit of preparing you may give better speeches than those who are completely comfortable in front of an audience.

3. You'll need to get in front of people on a regular basis

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
~ Mark Twain
If you're nervous speaking in front of a crowd you'll need to find every opportunity you can to face your fear. Start small and build yourself up with small successes and failures. Join toastmasters or volunteer for presentations regularly at work.

4. You'll learn to recover from mistakes

Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it.
~ Salvador Dalí
When you handle mistakes in your speech with a sense of humor they can become the most interesting part of your presentation. The more mistakes you make, the better you'll get at handling them.

5. You'll need to train

The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is, the less there is.
~ Pablo Picasso
If you're fearful of public speaking you'll be more likely to study the topic. Public speaking is an art that requires training to perfect.

Curiosity and a drive to learn the techniques of great public speakers is your best friend on the path to becoming a great public speaker yourself.

This is the second installment in the 9-part series: How to Give Magnetic Presentations.

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