Public Speaking: Assistants Are Finding their Voice

With thanks to all who are participating in my Weekend Polls, here are last weekend’s results.

The question: How comfortable are you with public speaking?

The results: While roughly a third of respondents rate their comfort level at lower than a 5 out of 10, another 62% have a fair (or high) degree of comfort with the notion of speaking to an audience, thank you.

For those who are uncomfortable with public speaking, it’s old fashioned fear of failure that causes respondents the most concern – followed by concern over impact to their reputation or brand. If you’re one of those who doesn’t enjoy public speaking, you may take comfort from the fact that the great majority of those who are comfortable with taking the floor were not always that way.

The good news? These people made the transition, and so can you. How? Through old fashioned practice, with speaking at events and studying others’ techniques topping the lists. Even better news? 80% of respondents reported that they have networking or professional associations in which they can practice and hone their public speaking skills.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 62% of respondents rated their comfort level with public speaking at 7 or higher
  • 1 out of 10: 0%
  • 2 out of 10: 1%
  • 3 out of 10: 14%
  • 4 out of 10: 13%
  • 5 out of 10: 5%
  • 6 out of 10: 5%
  • 7 out of 10: 22%
  • 8 out of 10: 22%
  • 9 out of 10: 9%
  • 10 out of 10: 9%
78% of respondents have spoken in front of audiences two or more times in the past year, while 11% have not done so at all
  • 50% spoke in front of an audience on two to five occasions in the past year
  • 22% spoke in front of an audience on six to nine occasions in the past year
  • 11% have not spoken in front of an audience in the past year
  • 6% spoke in front of an audience on 10 or more occasions in the past year
  • 6% spoke in front of an audience on one occasion in the past year
  • 5% selected “Other”; one wrote, “50 times since 2009”
A high majority of respondents have been offered opportunities to speak in front of an audience in the past year
  • 72% were offered an opportunity to speak in front of an audience in the past year
  • 22% were not offered an opportunity to speak in front of an audience in the past year
  • 6% selected “Other”. One respondent wrote, “Multiple times in previous years”.
66% of respondents reported having been proactive, volunteering to speak to an audience in the past year
  • 67%  volunteered to speak to an audience in the past year
  • 33% did not volunteer to speak to an audience in the past year
Fear of failure and impact on your reputation or brand cause the greatest concern
  • 23% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified fear of failure
  • 23% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified reputation/brand, and concern over how people will perceive their views or presentation skills
  • 15% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified concern over remembering what they want to say
  • 15% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified subject matter knowledge/concern that they may not be well enough informed
  • 8% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified freezing in front of a crowd
  • 8% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified the audience (they’re scary!)
  • 4% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified tripping over their tongue
  • 4% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking selected “Other”; one noted, “all of the above” 
  • 0% of respondents who don’t enjoy public speaking identified “Voice – not loud enough/other concern(s)”
For the vast majority of those who now enjoy public speaking, it hasn’t always been easy or comfortable
  • 79% of respondents who enjoy public speaking reported that it hasn’t always been easy/comfortable
  • 21% of respondents who enjoy public speaking reported that it has always been easy/comfortable
Old fashioned practice – speaking at events – tops the strategies for skill development
  • 27% have worked on skill development by accepting opportunities to speak at events
  • 20% have worked on skill development by watching speakers they admire, to observe strategies and try to adapt them as appropriate
  • 18% have worked on skill development by offering to speak at events
  • 9% have worked on skill development by practicing in front of colleagues, family and/or friends
  • 9% have worked on skill development by practicing in front of a mirror
  • 7% have worked on skill development by working with a coach
  • 5% have worked on skill development by entering public speaking competitions
  • 5% have worked on skill development by taking voice/elocution/other related classes
  • 0% reported on having worked on skill development by joining a debating club
  • 0% reported on having worked on skill development by joining a group such as Toastmasters
The vast majority of respondents have networks or professional associations within which they could hone their public speaking skills
  • 80% belong to a network/professional association where they could practice and hone their public speaking skills
  • 20% do not belong to a network/professional association where they could practice and hone their public speaking skills

Take the Podium Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

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