What Fear of Public Speaking?
According to "The Book of Lists," the fear of public speaking ranks No. 1 in the minds of the majority of people in America. This fear is ranked much higher than death and disease. Who wants to stand in front of a group of people and speak?
The dramatic fear of speaking in public affects 15 percent of Americans, according to Dr. Michael Telch of the Laboratory of the Study of Anxiety Disorders at the University of Texas at Austin.
I recall my beautiful daughter having this problem in high school. I didn't know until after the fact that she had to take public speaking in high school. The day she had to make the big speech, a major anxiety attack took place. Ever the sales lady, she talked her teacher into listening to her public speech in his office. I'm told she received a B in the class. Today with her master's degree, she speaks to students at Ball State University in the field of speech pathology. I know it is not easy for her.
Your success in the field of development, marketing or communications depends on your ability to communicate effectively. I will never forget the first day in my career at the University of Louisville, when I attended an engineering school alumni luncheon. As the program began, without my knowledge, I was announced as the next speaker. I felt chemicals in my body I have not felt since that day. I was terrible at the podium, but I knew from that point onward I must be prepared to speak at a moment's notice.
There are a variety of methods to reduce this fear. In my opinion, the greatest way to reduce stress before public speaking is to completely understand your subject matter. If you know more about the topic than the audience, what is there to fear? I was honored to speak recently at the National School Foundation Association National Conference in Indianapolis. I was scheduled to talk for 75 minutes, but I was prepared to speak for at least two hours.
Know your strengths and weaknesses in communication. In preparation for my speech, I practiced privately for several hours in the bathroom in front of a mirror and timed each presentation. You will gain confidence over time as you speak to greater numbers of groups. I truly enjoy sharing my career with others, especially from a practitioner/consultant viewpoint. There is no substitute for life experiences!
As I left my session at the NSFA National Conference, several people said I should be the keynote speaker next year. These comments made me feel good, as I thought of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This quote is much easier to process when you are confident, fearless and passionate about your message to your audience.
Whether you join Toastmasters or not, public speaking is important to your career success. Seek opportunities to speak and feel your confidence grow after each speech. It is the greatest feeling in the world!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.