Can Fear of Public Speaking Hurt Your Career?

Only if it stops you from trying! Around 75% of us fear public speaking and it is regularly ranked among the top five fears, usually right before death.

Being able to deliver a good presentation is crucial to career development, especially if you want to rise within the ranks. Presentation skills are highly ranked in senior level personnel searches, sometimes even above performance (oddly enough).

Perhaps you have no desire to rise to the top of your company or industry. The fact remains you still need to be able to communicate effectively to small and large groups of people: co-workers, work teams, bosses and clients.

So, the fear of public speaking can’t hurt your career. But if the fear is so debilitating that it stops you from doing it, then that will hurt your career.

Like anything else, you will get better with practice. First and foremost, it helps to remember that it’s not about you! It’s about communicating a message to your audience, whoever they may be. Keeping that in mind will help you deal with the fear.

Also, a little fear can be good. Our brains are wired to cause certain reactions physically when we are afraid, so use the adrenaline. Obviously, you will need to learn to control the flushing and sweating, but use the energy that adrenaline produces.

Keep it concise. Nothing is worse than a long, boring PowerPoint presentation. Remember, think about your audience and what you are trying to communicate. How can you communicate that message as concisely as possible?

Be yourself. You should be passionate about whatever you’re talking about, but make sure you keep it real. The audience will hear and sense your passion.

And, always remember, it’s okay to make mistakes! It makes you human and relatable. Everyone you’re talking to will understand immediately how you feel. Just correct whatever it is, laugh and move on. Now your audience will be on your side.

So, wherever you want your career to go, getting over your fear of public speaking, or just learning to deal with it, is important. Practice, practice, practice.

And, make it all about your audience, even if it’s just a small team meeting. Keep the focus on your message and your audience; if it turns out they like you, that’s just gravy!

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