If you have anxiety about public speaking, you’re clearly not alone – but will public speaking training actually alleviate or exacerbate your anxiety? |
If you have deep anxiety about public speaking, I want you to be very cautious before you even consider taking any kind of public speaking training.
Public speaking training may actually make your anxiety worse!
It’s important to make some clear distinctions here: being a little nervous or a little anxious about doing pubic speaking is common.
Having a little public speaking anxiety is so common that some public speaking trainers don’t realize that some people have an actual clinical phobia and very deep anxiety.
If you suffer from true glossophobia and not merely a “normal amount” of public speaking anxiety and nervousness, then a public speaking training might actually do more harm than good.
I’ve heard some terrible stories about public speaking trainings where the trainer – well intentioned I’m sure – took a “sink or swim” approach to anxious students and worsened their anxiety.
One particularly bad story I heard is a public speaking trainer that actually bound a students hands with rope behind her back to prevent her from “making nervous gestures”; you can imagine the damage caused to this poor student of public speaking.
A good public speaking training will offer the student plenty of feedback on what they did well and what needs improving.
A very good public speaking training will not hold back – instead of just getting nice pats on the back for lackluster skill levels, the student will be challenged to improve with honest feedback.
At the best public speaking trainings, the facilitator will know how to set the rules up ahead of time when it comes to giving feedback because mean-spirited comments disguised as “telling it like it is” will do more harm than good.
Evaluate a public speaking training and the trainer carefully. Speak to the trainer directly and tell them if you have concerns or have experienced anxiety about public speaking in the past. They should be able to have an honest dialogue with you and ease your mind about any uncomfortable situations that you might encounter.
All that being said, even the best public speaking trainings and their trainers can’t read a student’s mind or know their entire personal history, so ultimately you need to be responsible for yourself and to yourself. Try to stay out of situations that will result in increased anxiety, and if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, give yourself permission to bow out gracefully and watch from the safety of the sidelines.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can feel free to contact me and I’ll be glad to address your concerns and answer your questions.
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