Public Speaking Over the Phone
April 11, 2011 2:46 PM Subscribe
How can I overcome my fear of giving presentations over the phone?
posted by sabira to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For my job, I occasionally have to deliver 5-minute presentations to potential clients during conference calls. The meetings are an hour long, and my segment usually comes in towards the end. I listen in to the entire call and the whole time, I start to feel increasingly anxious about my presentation. Even though I know the material well and always spend time practicing beforehand, as soon as the moderator introduces me and lets me start talking, I freeze up. Almost instantly, I can feel my heart begin to race, which causes me to become flustered and forget most of what I intended to say. I start stuttering and I reach the point where I'm so nervous that I can hardly breathe, much less deliver the presentation that I'm there to give.
I know that this is a phone issue because I have absolutely no problems with speaking in public when I can actually see the people I'm talking to. In those settings, I usually have a little bit of nervous energy that builds up right before I speak, but once I've started speaking, all of that goes away. I feel as though I'm in my element, and most importantly, I feel confident.
However, when I'm speaking during these conference calls, I don't feel that way at all. I think the fact that I'm unable to see anyone in front of me makes me feel more nervous. When I'm standing in front of a crowd, it's easy for me to assess the environment and feel in control of my speech's outcome. But when I'm giving a presentation over the phone, I'm sitting at my desk and feeling anxious because I'm speaking into an empty void. Of course, the more anxious I become, the more I start stuttering and stammering, and then the entire presentation is ruined because I rush to finish it while skipping over most of the topics that I had intended to address.
So, here's my question: How can I overcome my fear of giving presentations over the phone? I've tried rehearsing more, and this helps calm me in the moments leading up to the presentation, but once I start talking, all of the anxious feelings take over again. I've also thought that it might help for me to be able to stand up in front of an empty room while I'm giving the presentation, but unfortunately, that's not a possibility since I have to be logged in at my desk during the conference call. My next presentation is tomorrow afternoon, so I would greatly appreciate any suggestions that you all have for how I can feel more confident and pull off a successful talk.