You’ve set your goal: overcoming your fear of public speaking. That’s excellent, as there are lots of benefits. However, setting a hard goal like that and reaching that goal are two different things. So, how are you going to keep your public speaking resolution?
It’s New Year as I’m writing, so let’s assume this is a New Year’s resolution. Research shows that most New Year’s Resolutions fail. Some sources suggest up to 88% fail. Among the reasons that resolutions fail in general, a few stand out for public speaking.
Setting unrealistic goals can lead to failure of any resolution. With public speaking this can definitely be an issue, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you have a fear of public speaking, making a resolution to be 100% free of fear is unrealistic. Most speakers have at least some fear reactions when speaking in important situations. Good speakers learn how to convert that fear into a positive, but its never gone.
Make your goal more reasonable, based on where you are at now. If you avoid all public speaking, then make your goal to have the courage to speak in a fairly friendly setting, e.g. a social club meeting, or even just speaking up in a meeting at work. If you have already spoken in front of people, make your goal instead about your feelings or using specific skills. Be specific. You want a real, concrete goal.
It’s easy to make this resolution, but all to common to fail to even start. When it comes time to face what you fear that first time, do you actually do it? Unfortunately, you have to speak in front of people in order to overcome your fear. No one looks forward to the process of getting over a fear of public speaking, but by avoiding it you are certain to fail.
Motivation is a sticking point for many big resolutions. They might be big, because they are psychologically difficult. They might be big, because it isn’t just the matter of doing something once, but doing it many times. Public Speaking is both. We not only have to overcome the psychological hurdle of doing what we fear, but we have to do it repeatedly.
If that were not enough, the nature of public speaking adds more roadblocks. Opportunities to speak to an audience are usually not very easy to come by. You not only have to force yourself into action, but you also have to work to make opportunities happen. There is a very real chance your motivation will dwindle while you wait for or struggle to find opportunities.
Just as troubling is that opportunities are infrequent and typically according to someone else’s schedule. This creates a very real danger of loosing sight of progress and even goals. Skills may get rusty. It also means we cannot optimally use momentum to keep us going.
All told, it’s very easy for a public speaking resolution to derail.
Making your resolution Actionable
One of the keys to keeping any New Year’s Resolution is taking action. The roadblocks above are about action. Your fears may cause you to avoid taking action. Sometimes you can’t take action, because you can’t easily get opportunities. The key to keeping your public speaking resolution is making it more actionable.
There are two main ways to make public speaking more actionable. You can join a speaker’s club or you can use technology, namely Virtual Reality.
Speaker’s clubs are the traditional way to make public speaking more actionable. The success of clubs, and yours within them, is based on programs that are specifically designed to make public speaking actionable.
Most clubs also have structured programs, providing you with actionable intermediate goals. This helps you set realistic goals.
Generally clubs consist of people you don’t know outside of the context of the club. At least a portion of the group has/had a fear of public speaking. Both lessen the psychological pressure that lead to avoidance, i.e. inaction. Social anxiety are still at play because people are there and clubs can be intimidating, because the members all seem so good.
Being part of a club can also help you keep your motivation up. For some, the thought of paying dues keeps them accountable and working to improve. Seeing the improvements in others, provides continuing motivation. Having set dates to speak force you commit. Finally, other members will keep you accountable.
Clubs though still have an issue that opportunities to speak are limited by how often the club meets and how full the club is. This means it could be weeks or even months between opportunities to speak. This is better than any traditional alternatives, but not optimal.
VR is the new, tech way to help you keep your resolution. You put on your HMD (VR googles), and you are in front of an audience presenting.
Psychologically it is easier to convince yourself to do the presentation, as you know it isn’t real. Yet, the experience of presenting to people is quite real. It is this paradox that makes VR therapy so powerful and why it is being used now by psychologists.
You control the schedule with VR. No more waiting for a time slot. You don’t even have to seek out opportunities, just fire up the program. Additionally, you can do it at home or maybe at work if your company has a setup. Demotivating external factors is eliminated, helping you keep your motivation.
With a product like Virtual Orator you’re in control. You get the kind of audience you need (large/small, friendly/realistic/unfriendly, attentive/distracted, etc). Arranging such experiences in speaker’s clubs or other common speaking opportunities is nearly impossible. Yet, the audience experiences is unique every time you start it. You can practice repeatedly with a realistic experience each time. You could even give the same presentation every day for a week.
Keep your Resolution
I applaud anyone making a resolution to improve your public speaking or overcome your fear of public speaking. I’ve done it myself and know it isn’t easy if you have a strong fear. It might be hard, but there are benefits for your career and self. To keep your resolution, the most important thing is taking action.
Revisit your resolution now. Make sure it is reasonable and concrete. Redefine your goal to make it achievable if it isn’t. If possible, break it down into steps. If you aren’t sure check out this post on a virtual reality gameplan for getting over a fear of public speaking to get inspiration.
You need to make your public speaking resolution more actionable. How are you going to convince yourself to face your fear? repeatedly? How are you going to get opportunities to speak? Join a speaker’s club, get VR training software, or both. Most importantly, take action.