Tame Your Fear of Public Speaking
- Friday, August 26, 2011
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” John Ford, American film director
Moses couldn’t fathom being the chosen spokesperson to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage. Surely, God knew about his embarrassing speech impediment. Let’s listen in on their dialogue:
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else” (Exodus 4:10-13 nlt).
Not even God could convince Moses that he was capable of fulfilling the speaking aspect of his historic assignment. God became angry with Moses, and finally agreed that Moses would do the leading and his brother Aaron would be his spokesperson (Exodus 4:14-16).
Moses was not alone. According to Toastmasters International, glossophobia,the fear of public speaking, is number one of all human fears. It is rooted in the core fears of inadequacy and loneliness (isolation). Most people get anxious when required to speak to a group because they are afraid of being humiliated, of looking foolish, or even panicking and drawing a blank. Perhaps they remember an embarrassing childhood experience in which the whole class laughed at them as they stood up front, or the panic they felt when they forgot their line in the school play. Such events can scar your confidence for a lifetime if you don’t “jump back on the bicycle” and ride it again.
Because I tend to speak rapidly, I used to fear when giving a speech that I would run out of material before my allotted time was up and have nothing else to say. On a few occasions this has happened, despite timing my speeches beforehand. However, the grace of God has covered me with “on the spot” information and insight each time as I have shifted into faith mode.
I admit it can be a little scary. Nevertheless, I know that goals and objectives are accomplished by communicating with people—sometimes large groups at a time. No leader or anyone desiring to achieve anything meaningful in life can afford to succumb to this fear by avoiding public speaking opportunities. Further, allowing fear, shyness, or self-consciousness to keep us from sharing the information God has entrusted to us is the epitome of pride and self-centeredness. Unfortunately, many people decide that man’s opinion or evaluation is more important than God’s purpose. “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
When a group invites you to speak, they have already concluded that you can deliver the goods. You don’t have to be a great orator with a huge vocabulary. You simply have to deliver a message. You do not have to emulate any other speaker; you just have to decide to be the best “you” possible. Try the strategies below and soon you will find public speaking to be an invigorating and satisfying experience.
-- Stick to subjects for which you have a passion or related experience.
-- Thoroughly research your topic. Get the facts; find illustrations, anecdotes, and simple statistics that bring life and practical application to your points. Internet search engines, such as Google, are a speaker’s dream. Simply input your topic and a host of resources will appear. Remember, confidence is rooted in knowledge. The more you know about your topic, the more confident you will be.
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