Why does talking about what I know make me nervous?
The higher you are the further you have to fall. Perhaps this explains why people who are experts in their field sometimes dread speaking about their subject in public. The weight of expectation can be hard to bear.
If you pride yourself on accuracy (or work in an industry that demands accuracy at all times) you might worry about saying something incorrect. It’s interesting to note that younger people tend to worry about this far less than experienced, established professionals. For many, a deep-seated belief that being wrong about something is not okay can be enough to make you shy away from speaking in public. What a shame this is when the rest of us could learn so much from you!
If you feel anxious about speaking in public because you are afraid of making a mistake you may find it helpful to ask yourself these few, simple questions:
- What will happen if I get something wrong?
- If a person I really respect makes a mistake does this destroy my respect for them?
- Why do people want to hear me speak?
Audiences are very often more forgiving of us than we are and the odd mistake will bearly be noticed. If someone in the audience does pick you up on a point, accept graciously this opportunity for debate and discovery. Sometimes we are wrong, but once we realise how we’re wrong we can be sure to be right next time. What’s more, human fallibility is endearing. The audience may feel some relief that you are just ‘like them’!
One of my passions is live rock music. On many occasions I have watched singers forget their lyrics. I’ve even seen a guitarist fall over! Have these experiences dented my admiration? Not a bit. I understand that performers are fallible, just like me, and will make the odd mistake. We are humans, not machines.
If you are anxious about making a mistake when you speak, challenge yourself: does it really matter if you make a couple of mistakes and to whom does it matter, my audience or myself?
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