Public Speaking Anxiety And George Bernard Shaw

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To persuade, a speaker must talk fluently with courage and confidence. When public speaking anxiety or fear becomes evident, an audience loses confidence in a speaker’s ability to persuade. Obviously, if he cannot control himself how can he hope to persuade others?

Frequently the cause for stage fright is the fact that a speaker who feels it simply has not spoken to audiences often enough. New situations may be frightening. Remember the first time you asked for a date, or when you were asked for one? Were you nervous or unduly tense about the situation?

Notice the apprehension of a new driver. Although he wants to drive and likes it, he breathes easier when the traffic is not so heavy or when he gets out of the car. That first time, or maybe the first few times you rode in a plane, you would have liked to have dragged your big toe on the ground a bit longer before taking off. But after several flights getting into an airplane is as easy as walking into the kitchen.

Emerson’s statement, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain,” is true. Appearing before an audience once or twice may not enable a speaker to control fear. But if he will continue speaking on various occasions he cannot fail to defeat stage fright. George Bernard Shaw, for instance, was afraid to face audiences but over a period of several years he forced himself to speak at every opportunity. He conquered his public speaking anxiety. But his method was haphazard. One good speech course should enable a person not only to control their fear, but also to enjoy speaking. During the course they should make numerous opportunities to deliver-short speeches and to participate in many speech drills. Making many short speeches is far more helpful in overcoming fear than delivering only a few long ones. Much oral work is needed.

For a person to learn to face audiences they must appear before them often in the same way we learn to swim by getting into the water. So speak often even though you may have to kick yourself a few times to keep at it and you soon will be over public speaking anxiety.

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