I’m not comfortable to talk to a big audience (over 50-60 people), and that is my main concern about holding a speech.
As originally posted on Quora.com
This appears to me to be one of a classic pain vs gain scenario. Which is better … to feel the pain i.e. the fear of public speaking for a possible gain of increased book sales, further speaking opportunities, increased revenue or not to feel the pain and decline the speaking opportunity?
Declining doesn’t necessarily avoid the pain. It avoids the immediate anxiety and stress of not having to deliver the speech but it opens one up for self-doubt, second thoughts and self-criticism for being a coward for not taking the opportunity.
I find that decisions like this involve emotional and logical thinking to resolve. A fear of public speaking is an example of an emotional response to protect us from feeling the pain. We can back up our fear-protection mode by our logic. “Nobody would want to hear me.”; “I don’t have anything to say”; “it’s all in the book anyways, they don’t need me.”
There are ways however, that we can use our emotional/logical responses strategically to help us make difficult decisions.
I often use a T graph on a piece of paper to help me with difficult decisions. On a good sized piece of lined-paper I draw a T. This creates two columns. On one column I add the word Pros. On the other column I add Cons.
The original question here is whether to speak publicly about the contribution to the book or not. Therefore, the page should be filled out with both the pros and cons of doing so. This is called a brain-storming session. The idea is to generate as many ideas as possible on both side of the T. At this point, the idea is to generate ideas, not rate them.
Once you have exhausted your ideas I would then take two highlighter pens and working through both columns, identify each idea as being emotional or logical based.
The next step would be to determine if each item is actually true or not. Example: from the Cons column. ‘People will laugh at me.’ Possibly, but possibly not. This doesn’t warrant a True rating. If questionable, a follow-up question would be “Have people laughed at me every time that I have spoken?” A follow-up question to that one would be “If they did laugh at you when you spoke, does that have any impact on you right now?” And then “could having people laugh at you work to your advantage?”
Thus far we have taken a look at how to resolve a pain vs gain situation. We still have to deal with the fear of public speaking aspect of the question.
There are lots of variables that come into play here. How much lead time do you have to prepare the speech i.e. when is your speech? How long will you be expected to speak? Will you be the only speaker or will other contributors to the book also be speaking? Is the Organizer of the speaking event able to assist you in any way?
Assuming you have time between now and the actual speaking engagement, you could attend a local Toastmasters club. If the time is short, it likely won’t allow you time to develop and hone your speaking skills but it might just help you cut the edge on your fear of public speaking. It can be helpful to see other people in a group setting that also have a fear of public speaking, yet they are doing something to overcome their fears. Check out http://toastmasters.org then click on the Find a Club link to see if there is a club near you.
In the eventuality that there isn’t a Toastmasters club near you, or your speaking engagement is imminent, it might be helpful to see if there is someone in your personal network that is proficient with public speaking and be willing to help you.
For me personally, I have avoided speaking opportunities due to being afraid of public speaking. While I avoided my initial pain, I almost always wished I had had the courage to get up and speak. I don’t know if it caused missed opportunity for me or not.
I was forty years old before I did something about it. I joined Toastmasters 22 years ago and continually look for opportunities to speak in public. It doesn’t do anything about my potentially missed opportunities but I believe that it will create future opportunities.
Thanks for the question. I hope that the decision you make works for you.
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
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The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.