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How to Reverse Your Fear of Public Speaking

The Mission News: October 5, 2017

Tell me, Mr. Anderson. What good is a phone call, if you’re unable… to speak?
-Agent Smith

Freedom of speech is only useful if you’re taught how to speak (and reason and listen) in a useful manner. Inside Education, students are forced to mainly practice listening or being spoken at. Without many opportunities to practice speaking, students are ill-prepared for the world.

To become better at public speaking, consider this simple three step plan:

First, define the why. Warren Buffet credits learning to speak publicly as one of the best investments he ever made. But not many people know he chickened out at least one time before he actually attended a public speaking course he enrolled in. So if you’re beating yourself up about not speaking publically, stop it!

Second, verbalize any fear you have about speaking publicly and write it down. Now, we’re aware of the danger and can begin making preparations to insure they don’t happen, or if they do, you’re prepared for them.

Third, your fear of public speaking will decrease through acclimating yourself to it through incredibly small steps.

Start small. Begin voicing your ideas in meetings or while in conversations with acquaintances. Then do the same with strangers. Do this for a month. You might be embarrassed, or disheartened by the experience. But no matter what, if you do it you will subtly gain more confidence. Now make a bigger step:

Make commitments to speak you can’t back out of.

Get on Meetup and find any meetup to attend that is nearby you tonight. Register to attend, ideally pay money to help ensure you show up and don’t back out. You’ll be forced to introduce yourself. Repeat this exercise and you’ll begin to remove your fear of public speaking. Over time, you can ask to schedule a talk or lead the meetup. Or, you can go full blown Tyler Durden and get your kicks attending meetups and crying while Meatloaf hugs you (joking!).

Boom. You’re on your way to more confidence in your public speaking ability!

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News that matters

Research shows that making gestures while you speak will increase your creativity. Gesticulate away to help find the words to say!

➜ Scientists from John Hopkins are finding that improv classes will help you learn how to speak on your feet. We know, what a shocker. The shocking part is why so few people who harbor a fear of public speaking or want to think more quickly on their feet refuse to attend one! Side-note from the editor: I’ve now skipped two improv classes I was planning to attend. Get out and do it!

➜ The next time you’re turned off by someone’s voice, take it to heart. A new study recently published in Evolutionary Psychology shows that people could accurately assess whether someone had cheated on their romantic partner just by listening to the sound of their voice.

What we’re watching

Peter Dinklage (from Game of Thrones and other movies) has a killer commencement speech that not many people have seen. It’s well worth watching and listening carefully.

What we’re listening to

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It’s a battle to conquer the fear of speaking publicly. Why? Because throughout history those who spoke up in front of the group either became temporary leaders… or they got killed by the group! Evolutionarily, we remember the stakes of speaking publicly, but the modern risks of it are far, far less than they used to be. But it’s still a battle. We’re listening to the Tempest (to ride those wonderful emotions that come prior to public speaking) and Started from the Bottom to boost the ol’ confidence levels.

Originally published on our M-F Newsletter.

The Mission publishes stories, videos, and podcasts that make smart people smarter. You can subscribe to get them here. By subscribing and sharing, you will be entered to win three (super awesome) prizes!

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