Episode 101: How to Become a Fearless Presenter


Episode Transcript

Intro: Hi, I am Shawn Doyle, and across from me is the lovely and talented Rachael Doyle. I am the CEO of Shawn Doyle Training and Rachael is the COO. We do training programs to help people win at work. Glad you could join us. In season one, we are going to be talking about presentation skills. Today: How to become a fearless presenter. A fascinating topic for sure.

Shawn: (Plane story) People freak out when I tell them I am pro speaker. Why is that?

Rachael: It’s true… lot’s of people suffer from Glossophobia

Shawn: That’s right- what is that?

Rachael: It’s defined as Glossophobia, or speech anxiety. It is the fear of public speaking. The word glossophobia derives from the Greek meaning tongue, and phobos, fear or dread. Its also known as a form of social anxiety.

Shawn: That is right. So why do people have it?

Rachael: Good question- I think people are afraid to get up in front of people and be in the spot light.

Shawn: Several years ago a study by the book of list about the biggest fears people had – do you remember that?

Rachael: Yes I do - in fact it was in this order 1) Speaking 2) Heights 3) Insects 4) Financial problems 5) Deep water 6) Death.

Shawn: Wow! So as Jerry Seinfeld once said- most people would rather be in the coffin than have to give the eulogy!

Rachael: So why are people so fearful about speaking?

Shawn: Based on my experience working with people for 30 years helping them learn how to present- it’s a few things:

  1. History

  2. Lack of experience

  3. Culture

  4. Mindset

Rachael: O.K. That is a good list- I agree with those - tell a little more about what you mean by history?

Shawn: People have had bad experiences or have seen other people have bad experiences-It’s embarrassing to be failing in front of a bunch of eyeballs! ( Story about kid losing lyrics)

Rachael: So how do we change that? I mean history is history – right? The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population. The underlying fear is judgment or negative evaluation by others.

Shawn: Well step #1 is creating a new history… meaning- the past doesn’t have to be the future. We will talk about that in a minute.

Rachael : #2 lack of experience makes sense.

Shawn: Right- so actually the fear gets less each time due to what? - experience. So if you have very little experience you will be more anxious.

Rachael: The third is culture- what do you mean by that?

Shawn: (talk about culture)- what people say and talk about in terms of presenting.

Rachael: I think that is interesting – something is so much a part of our culture we just accept it as conventional wisdom.

Shawn: Yep. That it.

Rachael: What about #4- mindset.

Shawn: (Talk about mindset)

Rachael: So what do we do about it?

Shawn: The good news is we can change it…first lets start with MINDSET. I often ask people- what is the worst thing that can happen? Will they die?

Rachael: Well…NO.

Shawn: Will they lose their job?

Rachael: No of course not, in most cases.

Shawn: So what is the worst thing?

Rachael: To be uncomfortable…to make a fool of themselves..

Shawn: So the reality is, it is much worse in our minds then in realty- I have never seen anyone die speaking!

Rachael: So how is MINDSET changed?

Shawn : By re-framing- 1) think about positive outcomes (this is what pro speakers do) 2) change the language

Rachael: Oh…like FROM “ I hate public speaking to I LIKE public speaking”… positive self talk!

Shawn: Yes change the language, change the thought, change the action and result!! I love presenting! I am not nervous- I am excited! What you tell your brain it believes. Also think about the presentation not being about you but about them.

Rachael: I am curious- what do you say to yourself when you are doing a presentation in front of 2000 people?

Shawn: That I am terrified – no just kidding ( explains thoughts he is thinking ) The third suggestion is to write it down – make sure to download our worksheet document to help you re-frame the old thoughts into new ones

Rachael: What else can be done?

Shawn: Preparation. But the RIGHT kind.

Rachael : What is the right kind?

Shawn :

  1. Practice out loud ( explain)

  2. Practice in the room you will be presenting in (explain)

  3. Practice a few times (explain)

As I always say- “Preparation reduces trepidation!”

Rachael: Sounds like this will help people increase their comfort level.

Shawn: I also think you can practice by joining Toastmasters (explain)

Rachael: And they can find Toastmasters chapters by going to Toastmasters.org- there are hundreds of chapters worldwide- so many resources there too.

Shawn: The more you practice the better- it is all about frequency.

  1. Volunteer at work to do presentations.

  2. Volunteer to do presentations in your community.

  3. Join toastmasters and do speeches there – but to reduce anxiety think of it as conversation- not a presentation.

Rachael – Good point.. as Richard Branson once said - “Picture yourself in a living room having a chat with your friends. You would be relaxed and comfortable talking to them, the same applies when public speaking.” What else can be done?

Shawn: I also recommend rituals to get in the right frame of mind before you present .

Rachael: Like dancing in a circle and throwing salt over your right shoulder?

Shawn: How did you know? No more like habits to establish- to get you in your IPS state.

Rachael: IPS?

Shawn: Yes a term coined by Dr Jim Loer- (describe IPS) Ideal Performance State- Now, IPS is broken into three areas :

  1. Attitude

  2. Thoughts

  3. Body feelings ( explain each)

Rachael: Sounds a lot like mind over matter. I guess if you are in IPS the nervousness eases up quite a bit.

Shawn: That is exactly it- and if it works for pro athletes then it can work for everyone.

Rachael: That is a great idea- so if you were to summarize this whole topic in a nutshell what would you say?

Shawn: The 3 P’s- Preparation, Practice and Positive thinking – You can do this!

Rachael: On our next program we are going to be talking about Using Positive language when presenting- don’t miss it!

Shawn: I’d like to close today with this quote: “Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” James Humes