Posts Tagged ‘ public ’

Many Peoples’ Greatest Fear…

Not spiders.  Not heights.  Public speaking. 

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Credit: mckpr.com

Most people would literally rather die than speak to a group or a crowd.

My good friend “Moosh,” over at Sell, Lead, Succeed! put up a short, really interesting blog post detailing the 5 main reasons for not being able to shake off the jitters of a presentation (click the link for the post), and it got me thinking about my own daily work here at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Manassas, VA. (Click the link to check us out!)

Every day, it’s my job to stand in front of the class and relay the curriculum that the FAA requires me to administer to our students.  I will never forget that first day, when I had twenty faces I didn’t know looking at me expectantly, critically, skeptically.  Sure, I was nervous.  They didn’t know me, and i didn’t know them.  I was the new kid, despite having to lead the class.  It was my duty to establish authority in the class, but I knew that if I expected them to respect me, I would have to respect them first.  So I did.

My job was actually easy starting out, because I was taking over halfway through the class for a guy who was openly racist to students in the class; he had formed a very adversarial relationship with them, so once my new students figured out I wasn’t like that at all, they warmed up to me pretty quickly.  I began to slowly learn their names, where they were from, what their previous experience had been before coming here…slowly, I began to welcome them into my space — sometimes, perhaps, before they were ready to let me into theirs. 

Beyond that, though, the content of my professional experience had to speak for itself.  I spent hours going through the plans I’d made for how my 6-hour class would flow each day, what I would say during the lecture, how I would get certain confusing points across to them…I worked hard at being effective.  You know what?  It worked. 

I am still terrible at extemporaneous (or improv) speech — I get nervous and step on my tongue just like anyone else does when I have no time to prepare a topic or speech ahead of time — but I have found that the best thing you can do to improve your own public speaking skills is simply to get out in front of people, prepare your speech, and do it.  Over and over again.  It’s not comfortable and sometimes not all that pretty, but of course, real growth never is.

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