Blocks to Speaking

Almost everyone experiences some stress in speaking situations–don’t let stress stop you, or ruin your presentations.

In my work with professionals, executives and small business people, a common issue that comes up is difficulty speaking in certain situations. My clients know they need to be able to speak confidently to be effective — and successful — but their stress keeps them from reaching their potential. The stress-relieving technique I use often eliminates their dread of having to speak, usually in just a few sessions or less.

Most people think that the fear of public speaking is about talking to a large audience. They picture being at a microphone on a platform in front of a gymnasium full of people. While that can be a big source of stress, it’s not the only kind of stressful speaking situation that can interfere with making a good impression — and succeeding — in your career or business.

The size of the audience is a factor for many people. Some are fine as long as the group they are speaking to is less than twenty-five. For others, just thinking about speaking to any group of over three people sets the butterflies off in their stomachs.

Who they are speaking to can have a major impact on others. I often hear from clients about how they just can’t seem to organize their thoughts when speaking to someone in authority, whether that is their boss, the head of the department, or the board of directors. Others have difficulty with people they don’t know well. I worked with one woman who found herself flustered whenever she had to speak to someone significantly older than she was.

Sometimes it’s the subject matter. One person can be fine just shooting the breeze with a bunch of coworkers, but when asked to talk about something as “an expert,” he can’t seem to breathe. Another can do well talking formally about her work, but freezes up in situations where she is supposed to be funny or just casual. One of my clients found himself unable to speak up in small groups at work where he felt everyone was supposed to contribute something “useful” to the discussion.

Specific situations can stop some people cold. The stress to come across well in interviews will cause an otherwise talkative person to trip all over her words. Some business owners know they need to give talks in order to market their business, but the pressure of doing it “right” can have them passing up important opportunities. Even speaking at a social occasion, such as giving a toast at a wedding, can be too much for some people.

This is just a sample of some of the common situations where stress from speaking can block someone from moving forward. The usual way people are encouraged to “get over” their fears is to face them. Volunteer to give a presentation at your department’s monthly meeting. Practice interviewing with a friend. Join Toastmasters. Give so many talks to so many different people that you no longer get nervous when asked to speak.

These are all good suggestions and can work. Eventually. But for some people, the fear of speaking in public can be so powerful they can’t bring themselves to start. For others (those who have trouble speaking to their boss, for example), they simply can’t wait that long before they see improvement. For them, and for those who want to get over their stumbling blocks to speaking as fast and painlessly as possible, the stress-relieving techniques I use may make all the difference between stumbling along in their same old rut indefinitely and leapfrogging to success.

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If you would like to find out if these techniques can help you get beyond your own stress over speaking, email me to arrange a complimentary 30-minute consultation by phone or Skype.