Apprehension Is A Part Of Being A Speaker

We all feel some apprehension when it's time to give a speech
We all feel some apprehension when it’s time to give a speech
Image Credit: Kyle Mahaney

Apprehension is a big word that we use when we are trying to communicate the fact that we are scared to do something. Public speaking is not something that comes naturally to most of us and so to say that we feel some level of apprehension when it comes time to stand in front of a group of strangers and deliver a speech is putting it rather lightly. We’d all like to find some magic way to make this feeling go away so that we could focus on delivering the best speech possible because we understand the importance of public speaking. However, we just don’t know how to make that happen. Perhaps what we really should be looking for is a way to get our apprehension under control.

Know Your Material

Although this may seem like a silly thing to say, we need to know what we’ll be talking about before we take the stage. All too often we can get asked to speak on a topic that someone needs a speaker for and they just happen to decide that we’d be the perfect person to take care of this. This does not mean that this is a topic that we are comfortable with. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves standing before an audience talking about a topic that we knew nothing about before we were asked to give this speech.

As a speaker, you need to practice some self-control when it comes to deciding what you will and won’t talk about. If someone asks you to talk about a topic that you don’t know anything about, then you need to tell them “no”. Restrict yourself to talking about topics that you have some familiarity with. By doing this you’ll be able to boost your self-confidence. You’ll feel more comfortable about what you’ll be telling your audience.

Speak Often

The way that we become better speakers is exactly the same way that professional athletes become better – practice. The best way to go about getting practice giving speeches is to actually give speeches. All too often we tend to think of speaking as being us standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech, but it does not always have to be that way.

If someone is creating a video and needs someone to introduce part of it or to explain something, you can volunteer to do this. If someone needs someone to teach a class on a particular subject, you can offer to be that person. If there is an introduction that needs to be given as a part of a function, you can be that person. These are all speaking opportunities and the more of them that you do, the better you will become at public speaking.

Be Prepared For The Unknown

One of the big reasons that we may feel apprehension when it comes to giving a speech is that we fear the unknown. We don’t know the audience, we are unfamiliar with the room that we’ll be speaking in, and we don’t know how things are going to turn out. Taken together, these can all build up into a very large feeling of apprehension that may be hard for us to get over.

What we need to do is to realize that while we are giving our speech, there are an almost unlimited number of things that may occur. No, we can’t plan for all of them. However, with a little thought we can probably identify the ones that are the most likely to occur. If we think about how we should react if any of these events happen, then we can create a plan that will allow us to save our speech. Even if none of these things happen, just knowing that we have a plan to deal with them should help us to keep our apprehension under control.

What All Of This Means For You

Speaking in public is not an easy thing to do. When we spend time thinking about all of the different things that are not under our control, it’s all too easy to start to feel overwhelmed with apprehension and we can start to lose sight of the benefits of public speaking. We’d all like to be able to make this go away, but perhaps we should be focused on finding ways to get our apprehension under control.

The first step in making sure that your apprehension does not get out of control is to make sure that you know what you’ll be talking about. Don’t accept speaking assignments that would require you to talk about a subject that you would not be comfortable with. In order to become a better public speaker, you need to speak more often. Realize that not all speaking opportunities look the same and so you should look for any opportunity to stand in front of people and talk. One of the biggest contributors to our public speaking apprehension is the fear of the unknown. Since we can’t control everything that might happen, we need to take the time to think about the things that are the most likely to happen and then decide what we would do if they did happen.

We can’t make apprehension go away, but we can find ways to deal with it. If we take the time before we give a speech to prepare by knowing our material, practicing speaking, and having plans in place then we’ll be ready on our big day. The great news is that every speech that we give will provide us with even more tools to keep our apprehension under control.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many different things do you think that you should create plans for dealing with during your next speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you think about giving a speech, what comes to mind? For most of us, we think of ourselves standing in front of a room of people with our prepared speech spread out in front of us using the importance of public speaking to launch into a speech. However, life does not always work out that way. It turns out that we can be asked to give a speech in a number of different ways and special occasions are just one set of these. What this means for us as speakers is that we need to make sure that we’re ready to give a special occasion speech when the time comes.

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