I just stumbled across a great article about overcoming your fear of public speaking by famous American atheist, author, philosopher & neuroscientist, Sam Harris.
Sam starts his article on public speaking anxiety by reporting that American President Thomas Jefferson was said to be scared of addressing Congress. John Adams said of Jefferson “During the whole time I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together”. Despite his refusal to speak in public, Jefferson still managed to become president of the United States but as Sam points out, today no one could attain that goal without engaging in interviews and debates.
Sam has a gift for writing and I really enjoyed reading about his own intense fear of public speaking and how he overcame it.
“I can remember dreading any event where being asked to speak was a possibility. I have to give a toast at your wedding? Wonderful. I can now spend the entire ceremony, and much of the preceding week, feeling like a condemned man in view of the scaffold”. Sam Harris
“Ï cannot personally attest to most forms of self –overcoming: I don’t know what it is like to recover from addiction, lose a hundred pounds, or fight in a war. I can say from experience, however, that it is possible to change one’s relationship to public speaking, And the process need not take long.”
– Sam Harris
Sam admits in his article that he declined to be the class valedictorian in high school for fear of having to do public speaking. When his first book was published he considered declining talks to promote his writing. However, he knew that if he refused to promote his book by doing lectures and interviews it would go unread.
To summarise Sam’s public speaking tips:
- Admit you have a problem
- Get some tools
- Speak when the opportunity arises
- Accept your fear and apprehension
- Prepare something to say
- Prepare to say it
- Say it
You can read the fine detail of Sam’s public speaking tips on his blog
Sam concluded his piece by saying “… it is worth remembering that most audiences are extremely supportive…………………. They want you to give a good talk. They are not waiting for you to fail”.
If Sam wants to give a up his day job he can become a psychologist and come work with me helping people overcome their fear of public speaking. Sam knows what it takes to conquer public speaking anxiety and I will be giving a copy of his public speaking tips to all my clients who worry about giving presentations.
Please call 03 9819 3671 or 0429 88 3671 for information on individual and group therapy in Melbourne for public speaking anxiety.