Is your fear of speaking really a fear of rejection? That’s at the bottom of public speaking anxiety for a lot of people. And women often have a bigger problem with this than men do – at least in my experience. There are clear reasons for that, but that’s another post…
The way to deal with this fear (like any fear) is to first take a closer look. What are you afraid might be rejected? Your words? Your expertise? You personally?
Rejection Of Your Words
In Part 1 of this series, we’re dealing with a fear of rejection of your words. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 to cover those other rejction fears. Let’s look a little deeper at this issue of the words you speak. Here are a few facts to consider:
Fact A: Your words only count for 7% of the actual message that you deliver. 7%! Isn’t that incredible? The biggest part of your message is conveyed through your body language, facial expression and tone of voice. So that seriously takes some pressure off your words, doesn’t it?
When you’re speaking – whether to a client or a large audience – your intention is to connect with them, isn’t it? That’s what communication is all about. And people connect at the heart. That’s where those nonverbal elements come into play. They’re watching your eyes. They’re looking to see if you’re paying attention to them. They want the feeling that you care about them and their problem.
- Fact B: They want to experience positive emotions from hearing you – relief, hope, peace of mind. That experience does not come from your words.
We’ve all heard words that sound empty, where the emotion doesn’t match the actual words. Picture an eye-rolling teenager saying “I’m sorry” to a scolding teacher. The words aren’t conveying their real meaning, are they? Do you see how this reduces the pressure for you to get your words perfect? If your fear of rejection is about words, I hope that your fear is shrinking.
On the positive side of things, think of the people you enjoy doing business with. They are just regular people, aren’t they? Just like you. Now think of their speaking styles. Do they all have perfect grammar? Are they all fabulous speech writers and award-winning orators? Is their language completely clear of “uh” and “y’know”? Of course not! And yours doesn’t have to be either.
For now, stop worrying about your words and focus on relaxing so your face, voice and body can react naturally. That’s what will help you connect to people so you can really get your message across to them.
Once you get some practice speaking naturally, you’ll find it much easier to work with improving the actual words if you want to. It’s ironic that once you let go of the fear about the words, your options for words open up. Your creative ability and willingness to experiment with new phrases totally expands once your anxiety is gone.