Pitching an idea, speaking to a group of students or key note at a conference – most of us have to speak in front of a crowd at some point.
When I first started working in the UK, about 7 years ago, it surprised me how most people were terrified of speaking in front of a group of others. Apparently it’s the third biggest fear in the UK, and worst than death for many.
Is it a cultural thing? In the Dutch schooling system, I had to give presentations almost daily, in front of a changing class of 30 or so. Often having time to prepare (and often choosing not to). It has certainly made it much easier for me to stand up in front of an audience, plus I’m an extrovert, which probably helps too… having said that- I only feel comfortable now if I’m prepared, and mainly if I’m absolutely passionate about the subject I’m talking about.
I’m aware that being a confident public speaker doesn’t mean you’re a brilliant public speaker. (If only I was naturally funnier).
Amy Cuddy, in her TED talk, says we should “fake it until we make it”. She argues that power poses can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry.
At 25, fresh out of school with a degree in Commercial Economics, I first joined as a non-executive director in fathers’ business – not only was I at least a few decades younger that the others, I was also the only woman. Sometimes it’s not the size of the crowd that scares the shit out of you. I was scared, and I said the wrong thing, often. But I survived, and I’m still on boards, luckily with more woman and age variation these days, but I have certainly learnt a thing or two about speaking in front of a crowd the hard way- I faked it until I made it!
Danielle Krage, a TED talk speaking coach, has created a particular kind of training, developed around the principles of focus, depth and support. The kind of training that she’d want, as an off-the scale introvert herself. She’ll be hosting a workshop at the conference, helping us turn inspiration into action.
Now perhaps I should have a session with her before I get up on that stage!
written by Michele Ferron.