It's often said that public speaking is the world's number one fear – and that most people fear it more than death.
The reality is that there is no research to back up that claim – it appeared many years ago in a newspaper list and has been widely quoted ever since.
But it's true that most people would rather do most other things than stand up in front of a group of people. And genuine research often shows it among people's top worries.
It's not difficult, it's not time-consuming and it's not expensive. So what are the reasons people miss out on the benefits?
Well everyone has their own reasons but here are four of the most common reasons people avoid public speaking:
1. Fear: There are many things in life that we should worry about more than public speaking but this fear holds many people back from achieving everything they can in their lives and careers. In fact, here's the problem – most ways of teaching public speaking and presentation skills make the situation worse because they focus on what you are doing wrong rather than on what you need to do right.
2. Do not know what to do: Putting together an effective presentation is daunting for many people but that's because they do not follow a proper system for deciding what to say and how best to get it across.
3. Lack of confidence in expertise: Most people look on with awe at other people who are seen as experts, even though they sometimes secretly feel they know more themselves. The truth is there are no 'expert police'. Clearly, you need to know your subject but you need to share that knowledge with others. You can easily position yourself as an expert just by being willing to speak.
4. Unaware of opportunities: Many people do not bother improving their presentation skills, as they do not believe the benefits justify it. Of course, that's great for the people who are willing to get up and say something because it leaves the huge opportunities wide open for them. For those who are willing to speak, the benefits include:
– Becoming better known so that potential customers approach them directly
– Being seen as an expert so able to charge higher fees
– Publicizing their product and services by speaking at seminars and meetings
– Making money directly from presentation skills for example in paid seminars and workshops
– Turning presentations into products that you can sell to increase your revenue
The fact is none of these reasons are good enough to hold you back from public speaking and from enhancing your presentation skills.
Taking the opportunity to be a speaker can boost your business or your career significantly.