• Steve Crabb

Living Phobia Free – Fear of Public Speaking – #3 Putting Others First

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

In this video series “Living Phobia Free” I will be covering tips, techniques, observations and sharing information about overcoming a wide range of phobias and fears.

In this episode of the playlist Fear of Public Speaking; I begin by looking at how once you know how to manage your state THEN it’s no longer about you. Putting your audience first especially once in front of them, is key to overcoming a phobia or fear of public speaking and essential for being able to educate, inform or influence an audience, whether that’s an audience of one or thousands.

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Look after yourself first THEN serve others

“Please observe the non smoking signs and in the event of the cabin air rushing out and threatening to suck everyone out of the tiny windows into the freezing cold air at 35,000 feet, oxygen masks will fall from the hatch above you please place yours on first before assisting others.”

Okay it’s not exactly what they say at take off, but it’s what it really means isn’t it? The aircrew instructions are a great reminder when we are getting up to talk in meetings, give a speech or present to any group that we have to take care of ourselves first; before addressing the needs of others.

This in contradictory to most of the advice given on public speaking, which says, put your audience first. However think about it. If you are in a state of heightened anxiety; no matter how wise your words are, they probably won’t be heard if you are hiding in the bathroom, muttering under your breath or have thrown another sicky to avoid the event.

You begin by putting yourself first, by learning how to be calm, relaxed and grounded on demand and then; when you are planning your talk, and giving it, the focus MUST always be on the listener.

It’s like all recipes for success, you have to get the sequence right for them to work.

A lot public speaking courses miss the importance of this sequence. The advice given is your focus MUST be on your audience in which case you will feel okay; well it’s a nice theory, but in practice it very rarely helps or works. In fact many fear of public speaking courses still use the outdated, and rarely used approach (by anyone who knows what they are doing) of exposure therapy or flooding. This is when you expose someone to the problem they are fearful of in the vain (fingers crossed) hope that eventually they will get over their problem.

“Okay everyone welcome to the Acme fear of public speaking course; we are going to begin by you first finding a partner and spending two minutes finding out something about them where they are from and why they are here. You will then come on stage and share this with the rest of the group, remember the focus is on your audience and not on you”

At which point over half the group are paying more attention to the exit and can’t recall a word of whatever their equally anxious partner shared with them.

This approach is as ridiculous as it sounds; and is the equivalent of being bitten by a dog, becoming phobic of dogs, then going down the local park to let as many dogs bite you as possible so you will hopefully get over it by exposure.

Self care and learning on demand to be calm, relaxed and grounded is the key – go there first (put the mask on, breathe and relax) and THEN switch your attention and focus onto being of service to your audience.


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Author of “Business Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies” written for business coaches to help them to coach and guide their clients and for entrepreneurs and executives who want to know more about high level professional coaching.

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Steve Crabb is an Author, International Coach and Trainer you can contact directly with Steve via e-mail steve.crabb@stevecrabbcoaching.com

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