Posted on Monday, August 02, 2010
Fear Of Presenting To Others
Fear of Presenting to Others Research shows that more than 40% of people say their top fear is speaking in front of other people. It’s a form of social phobia - an intense and irrational fear of being judged by others when speaking in front of them - or of making mistakes, being embarrassed or humiliated in such situations - causing dread, panic and avoidance.
In work situations the fear most commonly occurs around formal presentations and meetings. It can then spread out to smaller groups, to conference calls, to informal situations like one-on-one conversations (especially with more senior people) and to things like introducing oneself on a course. It can then even spill into social situations with friends and family.
How it manifests itself
When sufferers feel that all eyes are upon them - "the spotlight effect" - their acute self-awareness makes it very difficult to focus on what is going on around them, to remember their speech, to read from notes or follow a meeting. Their mind goes blank or foggy. Their distress is further fuelled by efforts to hide or mask their discomfort which may become apparent through blushing, facial immobility, sweating, shaking, twitching, or an inability to speak normally or coherently.
Who does it affect?
Rob Dominic, from Viewpoint comments “Most people with a fear of public speaking are normal, intelligent, happy and well-balanced. They often come across to friends and colleagues as confident and outgoing.” “As you rise in your career as professionals and managers you are more likely to, called upon to share your knowledge and expertise. You’ll lead projects, teams and departments. But in these situations if you are fearful of presentations then you may come across as reserved, disinterested or unenthusiastic, and this can prevent you from progressing in your career.”
Rob also comments “In our experience it is the more imaginative, creative or artistic people who are more prone to developing such phobias. This is because phobias have a lot to do with the misuse of the imagination. In effect, people imagine a future possibility which is distorted and this fuels the fear.”
Where does it come from?
Fear of public speaking can have its root in many things. It can be an extension of childhood shyness reinforced by bad experiences of reading aloud in class or presenting at work, college or university. It can also start later in life, often at a time when background stress levels have been raised by other things like relationships or work. Then something happens that the individual can usually cope with but because of the background stress they tip into a mild panic attack. This is frightening and embarrassing. It destroys self-confidence. And it builds into a phobia as the sufferer starts to fear it happening again and begins to panic about panicking, to fear the fear.
Beating the Fear
Viewpoint has been using its ‘Workouts’ - two hour training sessions - to beat this fear and give professionals and managers greater skills and confidence when presenting to others. “The length of our Workouts are great for tackling this common development need.” Says Rob Dominic, “and the flexibility of our two hour training sessions means it can give that vital boost when it’s needed most.”