Afraid of Public Speaking? See a Specialist…

"The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public” – George Jessel, American actor and toastmaster


It probably happened to you too. It is a fact that fear of public speaking is one of the most common social phobias. US scientists conducted a detailed study during the 1990s on human phobias and it showed that people would rather go bankrupt, get sick or even die instead of giving a speech in public.

Famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld noticed another interesting thing – the person doing a eulogy at a funeral would rather be in the coffin at that very moment.

In her book THE POWER OF PERSUASION – Public speaking for managers (and those who want to achieve this), author Mirela Španjol Marković states that the stage fright before public speaking is unavoidable. According to scientific research, and her own personal experience, it lasts approximately three minutes, then the body starts to relax, and mostly after the first positive reaction from the public.

The book is full of author’s experiences and first-hand advice (in 2004 she founded Ciceron – as they say, they are No. 1 for rhetorics, communication and sales skills). Through her own fun exercises and examples, the author guides the reader through the basics of public speaking, voice exercises all the way to tricks used by renowned public speakers. You quickly discover that being a (good) public speaker is a tough job. The book doesn’t offer quick public speaking recipes, but it can help you gain security and master the techniques of public speaking. But with practice and constant training, public speaking can be taught.

Most common fears are: I will end up looking stupid, I will say something wrong, fear of criticism, a demanding audience, forgetting one’s lines, unpreparedness or the fear that our voice will quiver.

From my own experience, I know that these things will go unnoticed if the person speaking leaves a good impression right at the start. For a public speaker, those are the moments when he / she establishes a relationship with the audience – with a look, smile, clothes, good joke or an anecdote.

There are many schools, trainings and seminars where public speaking can be practised. Open seminar for communication and conversational skills starts with the basics of communication and tools for successful communication, goes on with conflict resolution techniques, all the way to successful dialogue techniques or business conversation skills. The seminar will be held on November 19-20, 2008. The seminar is conducted by the author of the above-mentioned book. As a business rhetoric coach commented the recent “media debate” (Kerum: Agrokor’s discounts are a joke) between Željko Kerum, entrepreneur and candidate for the next mayor of Split and senior executive president of Agrokor Ljerka Puljić. Those with Kerum’s ambition don’t need training.

If you want to learn from the best, then you must watch and listen to these legendary speeches by the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thacher – “No! No! No!”, JFK’s speech “I am a Berliner – Ich Bin Ein Berliner” and Martin Luther King’s historic speech “I Have a Dream”.

When it comes to recent spectacular speeches then we can include a few speeches by the newly elected charismatic US president Barack Obama, like his DNC nomination acceptance speech.

Vlado Gotovac is often mentioned as one of the best public speakers in Croatian history with the speech he gave in 1991. Prime minister Sanader is also considered a public speaker with a pleasant tone of voice.

For the end – book author’s tips on how to overcome stage fright before public appearances:

YES – good preparation, still water at hand, reminders in the form of A6 cards, eye contact with the audience, smile, body movement control, breathing exercises and voice exercises, mental images.

NO – improvisation/lack of preparedness, coffee/sodas, anxiety pills/alcohol, panicking and negative thoughts, reading from paper, hiding behind the pulpit.


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