Serge is a Mexican national working in the U.S. as drywaller. He is an artist in his ability to put surfaces on walls.
He attended a speaking skills workshop focusing on delivering a clear message in 30 seconds or less. After the workshop, Serge approached me and said “I knew I was nervous speaking to others. English is not my first language and I am shy. I had no idea that all these other people where just as scared as I am.”
The “other people” he was referring to are white, educated, English speaking business owners including attorneys, accountants, and nutritionists.
Serge had internalized what he felt were his weaknesses and thought that is why he was afraid to speak in public. That day he learned public speaking makes many people nervous regardless of education, ethnicity, or background. For Serge on that day, the playing field had been leveled, at least in his mind.
Fear of speaking is universal. We all fear being exposed as inadequate, of being asked a question we can’t answer, of making a fool of ourselves. We can focus on what we perceive our deficits to be and use them as a block, or we can flip it around and look at our assets and use them as a stepping stone.
For Serge, a man of color working in a wealthy, predominantly white community, he allowed his perceived deficits to make him nervous. That day he realized almost everyone, regardless of country of origin, native language, or skill set, is nervous when they address a group. He felt inadequate as speaker because, at times, he tripped over words. The fact that he is a skilled tradesman, an artist and a hard worker had slipped his mind.
What are your perceptions of your weaknesses? What causes you to be afraid when you speak? When you look at your peer group, what do you perceive they possess that you do not?
Now flip that around. What special skills, training, background, passions, interests and attributes do you possess? What qualifies you to do your job or speak on your topic?
Both lists are real and important – the list of fears can hold you back while the list of skills will propel you forward.
Fear of public speaking is universal. Which of the two lists will you choose to focus on?
© 2011 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.
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