Peer Fear –

I am ok speaking to strangers – What makes me most nervous is speaking before the guys at work!

Many have a fear of public speaking, but the reason for the fear and the audience that strikes fear varies.

Speaking in front of your work colleagues is one of the situations that instils fear in some!

Why? and how can you overcome this fear?

As with most fears it is egocentric.  The focus is inward, mostly concentrated on self.  Your shortcomings, inadequacies and feelings of insecurity.

I don’t know as much as some of the guys at work

If I mess up and say something wrong, they will know.

I will be disliked if I deliver a message they don’t want to hear

Of course, some of these points may be true, but how we view this task will have a massive bearing on how we prepare for, and how we perform our presentation.

Here are 5 positive strategies for dealing proactively with peer fear.

1. Make Friends With Your Colleagues

This might sound tricky if there are a lot of egos flying around in the office, or even if there are a few personality clashes. But we aren’t talking about being best friends here!! It’s really about being more open, and friendly with our colleagues.

Find out a little bit about them, what makes them tick.  What do they like about work, what are their struggles.   What are their family situations, what things are important to them?  What are their hobbies? Usually people find it easy to be friends with someone who lets them talk about themselves, so show an interest.

Could you use what you know about their hobbies in your presentation to illustrate a point?  This will keep them included and interested during your presentation.   

Let them know a little about you too. Not your deepest darkest secrets!! But avoiding the temptation to keep all your cards to your chest, will allow for a warmer environment socially.

Allowing that comradery to grow, will lead to them being more on your side when you do have to present to them. You’ll find it far easier to present in a way that’s natural. This will help to reduce any anxiety or stress you may have.

2. Use Commendation Freely

Yes, you may have many things you need to point out for your colleagues to work on. Going straight into your presentation with what you feel is wrong, or needs to improve, will make for a negative atmosphere within the room.  This isn’t good for your colleagues or you as the speaker.  You will pick up on those  negative feelings, and this will lead to extra nerves.

Instead, start with commendation.  We all like to feel valued. 

In 2014, IMB’s work trends survey of over 19,000 workers in 26 countries showed that the engagement level of employees who are given recognition is almost 3 times higher than those who do not.   So, by showing gratitude for what your colleagues do well, you will stop them from switching off to your presentation.

Give sincere commendation, based in reality. It will only have an effect if its genuine. Be specific.  If you show that you have been paying attention to each team members own efforts, it will have a really positive effect. They will be more open to new ideas, targets and changes that need to be implemented.  This will be especially powerful if the work-on you propose is a ‘next step’ from what they are doing well.   Doing this will effectively chip away at your peer fear, because you can bounce off the good vibe you’ve created in the room.

3. Engender Teamwork

So you have to deliver a tough message.  And yes you have set some goals for your team to work on.  But is it really a team effort? Have you included yourself?

When you put yourself into the picture, perhaps highlighting where you have made mistakes and the action you intend to take,  You warm your audience to yourself.  Humility is an appealing quality from a speaker, and your peers would rather you admit fault than arrogantly come across as Mr Perfect.

You will also need to be a team player when it comes to the ‘work-ons’.

What will you do.  How will you work with your team to accomplish your vision. Very importantly, what are some of the things you can all do together to make advancement.  Could you cultivate an atmosphere of help and support where there will be no judgement when asking for help.  Celebrating common goals and objectives above personal success will hopefully create a better team spirit.  As a result there will be less back biting and competition between staff and they will also feel you’re in it with them.

Finally including your audience in the goal setting process.  Allowing them to come forward with where they feel they could improve, and giving them a voice as to how they feel changes can be made.  This will dignify them and get them on board as an important and valued member of the team.  If they were part of the process too, they may even work harder to accomplish these targets than if they feel these goals were imposed on them.

4. Understand Their Expectations

You are full of fear about how your colleagues perceive you as you speak to them. But its really helpful to understand their expectations before you get up in front of them.

They know you’ve been given this role. Despite your own internal struggle, they will not be questioning your right to be there, or what your motive is.

As a manager or team leader your job naturally is to get the most out of your team.  They won’t question that.  You should be looking for fine tuning or mistakes to fix.  They will fully expect you to embody that role.   So, own it!!!

Another example may include superiors or other managers.   You may be in a managerial role in marketing for instance.  Part of your audience may be managers and peers in a more technical role, or as reps or sales managers or other department heads.  Perhaps they have been in the firm longer than you too.  However, your presentation is from your area of expertise, angled from what your department is trying to accomplish.  So, they will, despite their experience and position in the firm, expect you to have an angle from your sector.  Be confident and fulfil your role.  They will respect you for it, and you will feel more confident as a result.

If you go into the presentation already believing that they don’t question your right to be there, this should alleviate some of your nerves and dread when speaking to your peers.

5. Be Confident In Your Abilities

Perhaps the most difficult of all.  You may be confident of what you need to say and have put together a well rounded out presentation, full of commendation and positive goal setting. But executing it well? Therein lies perhaps your biggest problem. In fact, few people have benefitted from any coaching in presenting skills before they have a job that requires it of them.  So they have a fear of public speaking with not much cause for dispelling that fear.

We at Keynote Speaker have already touched on confidence hacks in one of our previous blogs. Go ahead and take a look. These simple, yet effective ways to improve your own personal confidence will have huge effect on your ability to present well. 

But because many professionals have never had the benefit of having training in public speaking, you may naturally feel that seeking self-educating and improvement through blogs isn’t quite enough. Despite your best efforts to apply what you read, you may still feel you lack a full arsenal of presenting skills, which impounds the problem of peer fear.

One to One Coaching or In-House Training are both aspects of our training solutions.  Why not take a look at what we offer and contact us to see how we can help to make the most of your talents, and how we can hone your skills so you can deliver powerful presentations, regardless of who you need to speak to.

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