SD #46 | Public Speaking Anxiety: How Storytelling Can Help

#businessstorytelling glossophobia public speaking public speaking anxiety Jun 12, 2023
Woman looking through her fingers and hiding her face due to fear of public speaking.
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Read Time: 4.0 minutes 


The important thing to keep in mind is that getting to a story in your presentation quickly is the easiest way to reduce the fear of public speaking.
— The Leaders Institute


What’s the Tip?

As much as 75% of the global population suffers from glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking. That fear can present itself in any number of ways, including: increased heart rate and palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling of the voice or hands, dry mouth, and name a few. The truth is most of us have experienced these symptoms of public speaking anxiety. But the secret is how we manage them. Journalist Edwin Newman put it well when he said: "we all get butterflies; the key is to get them to fly in formation." This week's tip is to use storytelling to help do just that.  


How Do You Use It?

Let's see how storytelling frameworks can help provide structure and coherence, enabling you to communicate your ideas in formation. Making communication easier for you as a public speaker goes a long way to reducing public speaking anxiety.

For starters, let's rethink what constitutes public speaking, because it doesn't have to be standing in front of a group of people, making remarks. Public speaking can also be answering a simple question like "what do you do?," which can happen in the hallway at work with someone you don't know  or at a party or a neighborhood barbeque.

Having an easy way to answer that question, using a simple, clear framework, helps you perform at your best and lowers the risk of fumbling your words because of nerves or lack of confidence.

Here's a storytelling framework you can use based on answering 4 questions: (1) Who are you serving? (2) What problem are they facing? (3) How are you helping? and (4) What difference are you making? 


What's an Example? 

Here's one way to answer the unexpected question of "what do you do?": I help busy solopreneurs create better content faster, so they can spend less time marketing and more time monetizing what they love. Notice the storytelling elements involved in this example. Solopreneurs are your hero. You're acting as their mentor or guide, helping them create better content faster. Because of your help, solopreneurs are able to overcome a problem, which is they're spending too much time on marketing. And you're able to help drive a good result or outcome: helping solopreneurs make money doing what they love.


What's the Benefit to You?

There are other benefits of storytelling when it comes to managing public speaking anxiety. Here are some additional ways storytelling training can help:

  1. Engages the audience: Storytelling captures the attention and interest of the audience. By incorporating storytelling techniques into public speaking, you can create a narrative that hooks your listeners, making them more engaged and less focused on your anxiety.
  2. Enhances confidence: Through storytelling training, you can learn how to craft and deliver compelling stories. As you practice and receive feedback, your confidence in your storytelling ability grows. This increased confidence can then be transferred to public speaking, helping you feel more at ease and self-assured when presenting in front of others.
  3. Emotional connection: Stories have the power to evoke emotions and create a connection with your audience. By incorporating storytelling techniques, you can tap into the emotional aspects of your presentations, making what you're communicating more relatable and memorable. This emotional connection can help alleviate anxiety as it shifts your focus from the fear of judgment to connecting with your audience on a deeper level.
  4. Improves improvisation skills: Storytelling training often involves exercises that enhance improvisation skills. These exercises can help you think on your feet, adapt to different scenarios, and respond to unexpected situations. By developing these skills, you can become more comfortable with impromptu speaking, reducing anxiety related to the fear of forgetting or stumbling over words.
  5. Practice in a supportive environment: Storytelling training involves practice sessions and workshops where you can share your stories in a safe and supportive environment. This allows you to gradually build your skills and confidence without the pressure of a formal public speaking setting. The feedback and encouragement received during these training sessions can help you overcome your anxiety and develop your speaking abilities.



Overall, storytelling training provides you with tools and techniques to captivate and connect with your audience, while also boosting confidence and reducing anxiety. It helps you transform public speaking from a daunting task to an opportunity for more human interaction and more meaningful engagement.  

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