man with public speaking fear

I’m Greek, so please indulge me. In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the father plays a game where he takes a word and shows how it is rooted in the Greek language. Here’s my Greek lesson for you.

Glossophobia comes from the Greek glōssa, meaning tongue, and phobos which means fear. Public speaking fear is real and very common. In fact, it is the single most common phobia outweighing the fear of dying.  About 27 million Americans are afraid to get up and speak.

Over the years I have seen countless people get up to present and freeze, get so nervous that they shake or sweat as if they just ran a marathon. This physical response keeps some from sharing their great work, offering new ideas or contributing to their organization. The good news is that you can reduce and manage this fear. The bad news? It takes some work, but it is worth it.

As a society, we tend to believe people who are great presenters- even if the content is flawed or wrong. We also discount people who appear timid or downright scared. In the workplace, the importance of public speaking is often overlooked. People blame their lack of progress on not being in the right department, having the right background, connections or the lack of seniority. That may be the case, but don’t underestimate the importance of communication and effective public speaking skills.

According to Magnetic Speaking, “the fear of public speaking has 10% impairment on your wages & 15% impairment on your promotion.”  Being able to demonstrate knowledge by standing up and speaking out can be the differentiator in your career. As a public speaking coach, I cannot help you overcome the fear of presenting to a group of people in a blog. I can give you a few quick tips to get you started.

Work the Room

It goes without saying that you need to be prepared if you want to stand up in front of an audience and be an effective public speaker. The day of the presentation, arrive early and “work the room.”  Think about what you do at a social gathering. You mingle, meet new people, and greet those you know. Doing this gives you a feel for the room. It also shows people you care about them. Audiences are much nicer and less critical of people they know and like. So, don’t think your presentation begins when you start to speak. It starts when you enter the room.

Stack the Room

This is a little trick that works every time. If you know people who are attending your presentation, enlist their support. Ask 2- 3 people to position themselves in different areas of the room.  Tell them to smile at you! Now you have friendly faces to look at and it will help disperse your eye contact, so you are speaking to the entire room. This little confidence builder is a crutch to get you through until you feel more comfortable.

Own the Room

When you present, the room is your stage and you need to own it. You must take command, and there are a couple of ways to do that. First, don’t stay planted behind a podium. If you need to start there, that’s fine. Then move to the side, while still resting your hand on the podium for support. Walk. Pick a couple of spots in advance and move there with conviction. Stop and continue your speech. Then move to another spot. The mere act of moving tends to loosen people up and make them more comfortable. It goes without saying, don’t walk in front of projectors or screens, if possible.

There is no doubt public speaking is difficult. In fact, it is a lost art for some in a technology-focused world, but the importance of public speaking cannot be denied. Want a promotion? Want your ideas to be implemented? Want to help your employees develop better communication skills?

As a professional presenter and public speaking coach, I have worked one-on-one with individuals from CEOs of major corporations to small groups of employees. Not everyone can be a superstar performer… but everyone can improve, and I can help you get results. To read more about my services or chat about a custom program click here.


Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Longer Videos vs Shorter Videos

There is no question that we are impatient. If it takes a video longer than two seconds to load- we move on. If a video is four to five minutes, some might not even begin to watch. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. So, it might be surprising that Instagram is considering letting you post longer videos. In fact, a lot longer- up to an hour. And a new feature might allow for longer vertical videos. Longer videos have been trending on YouTube for the past few years. But many marketers still believe that shorter is better, under 2:00.

One can argue both sides of this debate. What you cannot debate, is the importance of video. Video is content-driven. With more and more mobile devices it can be your calling card anywhere, anytime.  I believe those who are not taking advantage of this trend are missing out on an important way to connect with customers, suppliers, and employees.

Here are some critical stats.

As you begin to create video content here are a few simple rules you should consider:

Less is More

Just because a video is longer does not mean it is more effective. If the subject is complex, you may need more time. If the content is simple you need less time. If you choose to go shorter, don’t lose the important points or slice it so tightly that you lose the emotional impact of stories. Try to make every second packed full of information. People are busy so be respectful of their time. Don’t stretch out a video. Yes, certain social media outlets may reward videos of a certain length, but it is still important that you are the judge of what your audience needs and wants.

Don’t be Blinded by the Numbers

If you are trying to be an internet sensation, the numbers matter. For a business, just getting a lot of views is not the measure of success. It is what people do after they view your video. Does your content drive them to connect? Do they buy something? Do they ask for more information? Lots of views are nice. Fewer views by your preferred audience can be more profitable.

Get Visual

Lots of talking heads are generally not as interesting as showing wonderful visuals, pictures, graphics and hands-on demonstrations. It does take more time to create a highly visual presentation, but it also gets more attention. If possible, add some fun.

Think in Digestible Doses

If you do have in-depth content, consider breaking it up into modules. That makes it easy for the viewer to see the content that most applies to them. It also makes it easy to fit in watching videos when they have shorter blocks of time. This approach is extremely valuable for training or step-by-step information.


Want to discuss video for your business? Let’s talk.