Women in Business Fall 2017

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SPEAKING Do you suffer from glossophobia (fear of public speaking)? Time to conquer it to get ahead in your career (and in life)




I think public speaking, for anyone, takes a tremendous amount of courage. So don’t expect to not experience fear


et aside snakes, forget flying and disregard the dark – the top fear for many professionals is public speaking. For some, glossophobia (as the condition is officially known) is even more terrifying than dying. It may sound far-fetched, but not to those whose careers force them to fight through the phobia.

“I still am terrified before I go onstage. My heart’s pounding. I’m sweating so I always have clinical-strength deodorant on,” quips Narges Nirumvala, CEO of Vancouver-based ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International. “I think public speaking, for anyone, takes a tremendous amount of courage. So don’t expect to not experience fear.” Nirumvala faced her own “do or die” situation about seven years ago. After being fired from a menial job, she spent months in “complete obscurity and unemployment,” unable to secure even a minimum-wage position. As she turned toward social assistance, her husband suggested she leverage her talent as a communicator and venture out on her own. Today, she has hundreds of conferences and group presentations under her belt as one of Canada’s leading executive speech coaches and a paid motivational speaker. “I didn’t have an option. And often for my leaders, it’s the same situation. They’ve been promoted, they are going to be CEO in a year, maybe they’ve just become executive director, maybe they’re going to be running for election,” says Nirumvala. “All of a sudden it’s absolutely vital that they can speak well in public.” If you’ve ever been to a conference or listened to your boss give a speech before you and your colleagues, chances are you’ve witnessed someone fearful of public speaking. Many who appear confident on the outside are scared to death on the inside. Through training, practice and learning from others, they’ve overcome it. LEARN WHAT TO DO (AND WHAT NOT TO) BY WATCHING OTHERS Q A turning point in Nirumvala’s career

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was after watching a technology CEO give a very dull talk at a human resources conference a few years back. “He was boring people to death. It was awful,” she says. “One woman had fallen asleep next to me; the other woman was on her phone the whole time.” Putting pen to napkin, she documented 67 mistakes made by the speaker – insights later shared in her Amazon.com bestseller Capture the Spotlight. Among them: reading off a PowerPoint, speaking to a PowerPoint and failing to share stories. “That’s how it started,” she says. “I went to hear someone speak. He was terrible. I learned so much.” Reading, listening and taking notes are simple yet powerful ways to collect insights and ideas to improve your public speaking skills. There’s a plethora of content available on websites such as YouTube or TED Talks, giving professionals front-row access to the best presenters, performers and speakers in the world. It will also help you pick up on any new trends and see what works – and doesn’t work. “There’s no doubt that the expectations for an entertaining speaker today is very different than it was,” says Debby Carreau, founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Inspired HR and chair of the Young Presidents’ Organization Canada’s women’s network. “It really has shifted and it’s also upped the game.” Carreau’s advice for beginners is to start small and work within your comfort zone. Then, start slowly pushing the envelope by making and posting videos on channels such as Facebook or Instagram and ask for feedback. She also recommends people practise by reading their speech

2017-08-31 10:05 AM