Heights, spiders, snakes – these popular phobias are no match for glossophobia, better known as the fear of public speaking, which rank as the most popular phobia.
Fear of public speaking can be characterized by profuse sweating, dry mouth, uncontrollable shaking and it can sometimes be debilitating.
But, there are some instances where speaking in public is hard to avoid, like, for example, community association board meetings.
If you live in an HOA and have issues that need to be addressed, there may be no getting around speaking in public.
For those times, try these expert tips from Associa’s resident Toastmasters instructor, Albert Flores.
Since 2011, Albert has hosted events to teach Associa employees how to become more comfortable speaking in public. We asked Albert to share his best tips to help you learn to speak up at your next board meeting.
Even if you don’t have glossophobia, and you’re just an introvert who needs some helpful tips for speaking up at your board meetings, this list can help you too.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR FEAR. First, understand that you’re not alone. Many people have trouble speaking up in public places, but like many other fears it can be overcome through patience and practice. Speak in front of different people, about different topics, for different lengths of time—the key is to just keep practicing.
- BE PREPARED. Presenting a speech can be more challenging when the fear that you will say something wrong is looming on your mind. That’s why Toastmasters asks speakers to prepare a speech on a subject they are comfortable with. To adapt that rule to a board meeting setting: be sure that you’re knowledgeable about the issue you want to discuss at your HOA board meeting. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be speaking up when the time is right. Do your research and be prepared to answer common questions that may be asked and don’t be afraid to use notes.
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Part of your preparation is to know where and who you will be speaking to. Your audience and environment will dictate the content and tone of your speech and will help you prepare accordingly. Understand how and when it is appropriate to speak up, as an example when in a board meeting there is usually an appropriate time to bring up new business or when the presiding officer may solicit input.
- SPEAK TO ONE PERSON AT A TIME. Controlling the room is one of the hardest things for a Toastmaster to master. One of the lessons we teach in Toastmasters is to focus on one person in a group and speak directly to them instead of trying to speak to the entire audience at once. Then gradually switch to a second and third person depending on the size of the audience slowly getting comfortable with your surroundings. Instead of speaking to a group of 20 people, you’ll feel like you’re presenting to a few individuals which will calm your nervousness.
The fear of speaking in front of audiences may never go away, but by practicing and getting comfortable with the process you can learn to manage it. There are many organizations and individuals like Toastmasters that can help with public speaking, but it is important that you begin practicing in an environment that will provide positive, constructive feedback so that you can focus on improving your public speaking skills in the board meeting and beyond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Albert Flores is a Project Manager at Associa and has been leading Toastmasters sessions for Associa employees since 2011. His current Toastmasters designations are Advanced Leader Bronze and Competent Communicator and he has served as Sergeant at Arms, Vice President of Public Relations, President and currently as Vice President of Education. Connect with Albert on LinkedIn. For more information about Toastmasters and advice on public speaking, please visit the Toastmasters International website at www.toastmasters.org