As a small child, I found it difficult to speak to an audience. I would get all nervous and tongue-tied. Reading aloud was particularly difficult. My eyes moved more quickly than my mouth, so I often stumbled over the words.
In my past life as a Customs Officer, I was President of the Customs House Social Club where I often had to give speeches. Even after I had practiced the speech in my head several times, nervousness took over and I would forget all the things I had practiced.
Also, during this stage in my life, conducting training sessions was difficult. I did all the preparation, the slides, and handouts, but as soon as I got up in front of the class, everything went blank. And instead of talking about what I knew, I spoke to the slides.
I was good at giving directions, but terrible at giving speeches.
I have always been afraid of being judged. My harshest critic is me.
So, getting the point.
I have attended two workshops run by Andrew Eggelton, a presenting mentor who has more than 25 years of experience in various roles i.e. acting, modelling, and presenting, and he had challenged me to make 2 videos about something I knew about. Getting in front of the camera scared me half to death. I have to say, it was exceedingly difficult even after Andrew’s coaching.
Shyness is certainly one of my lesser known traits. Being an introvert, not so much. I am so much better in a one-on-one situation but get me in front of an audience or a camera, I freeze.
So how can you work around shyness in business? Is it possible, or are you doomed to failure?
According to Ben Casnocha in his article of 2008, someone asked:
How does a fundamentally shy person succeed in business? Most people don’t perceive me as shy, but I started out being introverted. I get along pretty well with people at work, and I’m fine in one-on-one situations. But I don’t say much at team meetings, and still, have no clue how to give effective speeches/presentations. Still can’t be in group situations professionally without feeling attacks of paralyzing gut-level fear. What do you think I can do about it?
There is a difference between shy and introverted. Shy means you are uncomfortable interacting with people generally, particularly strangers, whether one-on-one or in a group. Introverted simply means you are more comfortable by yourself or with one other person.
Ben believes there is a way to overcome shyness in the business work such as attending workshops such as Andrew’s, or other type groups like Toastmasters, Speaker’s Tribe, or Meetup Groups that help you get over your shyness and teach you how to present to an audience.
Being shy in business will not do you any favours.
You MUST get out of that ‘comfort zone’ you have created for yourself, otherwise, your business is at risk of failure.
Here is why.
Shyness itself is simply a manifestation of low self-esteem, says Ben. You cannot cure it by going to Toastmasters or anything else. Therapy can help with this. But you will not be successful in business if you are shy. You could be successful as a worker bee, but not as a business person. Beyond a certain point of technical knowledge, business is all about dealing with people. We have different preferences about how we deal with people (some people need to be in a group, some prefer one-on-one; some prefer to write and send email, others find it necessary to talk on the phone or in person). But if one is uncomfortable dealing with people, and in many cases in business they *will* be strangers, then cannot make that work. You must believe that others will get value out of dealing with you – or they won’t.
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