Printer Friendly

Poised for confidence.

Fear can rob a person of many fine experiences. There are those afraid to ride in a plane, or on a horse. Some are afraid of water, so they never learn to swim Think of how much they miss!

Don't miss out on the fine experience of public speaking. Fear of speaking in public can be overcome.

Key factors in overcoming audience fear are; poise and confidence. They are not one in the same. Poise leads to confidence.

What is poise? How is it cultivated?

Poise literally means balance. Imagine a tiger or lion stalking it's prey. He is alert, aware and ready for any eventuality. There is a certain calm. He is in control, hence the expression: |poised for the kill'. Imagine also a high diver just before he springs into action. He walks purposefully to the end of the board. He is calm, quiet, steady, but ready to act instantly. This is poise!


Within a poised public speaker there exists a mental and emotional balance that gives him complete control of his thinking before he speaks or acts. He does not listen to those who say," ... don't be nervous. He is happy to be a little bit nervous, just like the tiger stalking his prey. Nervousness is a resource he can harness to work for him.

How can one cultivate poise? There exists a number of poise inducing elements and we shall discuss three of them.


Poise can be induced even during the preparation of a speech. At the start, if a speaker is not thoroughly convinced he has something worthwhile to say, he is already on the road to losing poise. At the podium, if he knows his material has been heard many times before, he will literally see the audience's attention slip away. Some will begin whispering to others, some will review their agenda for the rest of the day. Worst of all, some will fall asleep. As the audience's attention slips away, so will the speaker's poise.

A speaker must be convinced he has something worthwhile to say. So, prepare well! Do research. Present new facts. If the facts are fairly well-known, present them in a new way. Think of new analogies and illustrations. Be imaginative! Thorough advance preparation will give a speaker an eagerness to share his newfound information. This will induce poise.

After having done all you can to prepare interesting material, practice delivery. Practice modulation, pausing, emphasis, enthusiasm, audience contact and other points in the art of public speaking. This will give you a friendly ease and naturalness (poise) at the podium and the audience will enjoy listening to you.


Now that thorough research has been done to obtain original material, we can turn to the second poise inducing element: attitude.

There are only two attitudes a person can adopt: positive or negative.

A negative attitude, even during preparation, can place one further along the road to losing poise.

A negative attitude means the speaker is thinking too much of himself and not enough about the information he is responsible to impart. During preparation, he might go through fits of anxiety, dwelling on his weaknesses and inabilities.

|I can't say this'.

|I can't say it that way'.

|I can't do that'

|I can't.......

The poor fellow can't see clearly. He has |I' trouble.

Such a person must forcefully be reminded that the information is the most important thing. One cannot afford to think to much of oneself.

To overcome this negative attitude, think of yourself as a messenger delivering a telegram. To the householder, the important thing is the message. The same idea holds true before an audience. The message, not the speaker, is the more important aspect. If you have researched well, then you do, indeed, have the message to impart.

Have you ever caught yourself watching a speaker instead of listening to him? You were distracted, perhaps, from his message because he repeatedly put his hands in and out of his pockets, or kept buttoning and unbuttoning his jacket. Perhaps the mannerism of always moving his hand to his glasses, toying with his watch, or clearing his throat distracted you. This was a speaker more concerned with the messenger than the message. He was thinking too much of himself.

When a speaker thinks too much about the impression he is making, one of two things happen. Either he is overcome with thoughts of his weaknesses and inabilities, or he becomes overconfident, emitting a lofty and affected attitude. In either case he loses his audience and in turn, will lose poise.

We can all take a lesson from the cow. We we stare at a cow, what does it do in turn? It simply stares back with an unwavering directness. Why? Because it is not worried about what we think of it. It is interested in us.


With research and attitude in check, we proceed to the third poise inducing element. It starts as you are introduced.

Rise as if you want to speak. Walk to the speaker's stand. Do not run. Do not march. Look at your audience before speaking. Stand erect. There should be no slouching or overly relaxed manner shown by leaning on the podium.

Make a good, positive attack on the first words. Talk more slowly in the introduction with a lower pitch than might feel normal. This will help you gain control (poise).

In all of this, it should be clear there is a symbiotic process. The speaker and the audience feed-off each other. However, the speaker starts the ball

rolling. If you are uncomfortable, your audience will feel uncomfortable, which will make you more uncomfortable. If you are enjoying yourself, they most likely will enjoy listening and you will enjoy yourself even more.

Ruth Laredo is an American classical pianist. Regarding musical performances, she says, "There is a big difference between performers, not so much in how they look as in how they make the audience feel, how they bring them into the performance - people always sense whether a musician enjoys performing and is attuned to the audience."

The same thought can be applied to public speaking. Hence the need for poise.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:ways to overcome fear of public speaking
Author:Sheppard. D.J.
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Mar 22, 1991
Previous Article:Under the spell of the quality gurus.
Next Article:Communicating in a crisis.

Related Articles
Public speaking rule #1: have no fear; workplace presentations are as common as computers. Here's how to master your nerves so you can be at your...
Add Spark to Your Speeches.
Stay Cool When Things Get Hot.
Adventures in public speaking: A guide for the beginning instructor or public speaker.
Public speaking success strategies.
Speaking successfully.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters