Glen Savage is about to go on stage wearing wings and a halo. He’s terrified.



The year is 1961 and the five-year old Savage is playing the Archangel Gabriel in the nativity play at St James School in Brisbane, Australia. He has just one line: “Come here baby angels”.



Little did he know then, but the fear and anxiety of that moment would go on to shape his entire career. “I just remember thinking that I can’t do it. I can’t speak in front of all those people”, Savage recalls. “I was absolutely trembling just before the curtain went up. My voice was shaky and I stared at the floor… Thereafter I avoided any [public] speaking situations.”

他当时并没有意识到,那一刻的恐惧和不安会一直持续并塑造他整个职业生涯。“我只记得我一直在想我做不了,我没办法在那些人面前讲话。”萨维奇回忆说,“在帷幕拉开之前,我一直在发抖。我的声音颤抖着,两眼盯着地板……从那之后   我就回避一切公众演讲的场合。”


Upon leaving school he became a pharmacist, attracted by the safety of the glass screen that separated him from customers.



Many of us shy away from public speaking – but that fear may be limiting our career opportunities.



In 2000, he was asked to deliver some training for the wider pharmacy chain. “Rather than just working with people in my own   pharmacy, now I had the opportunity to help develop people in 400 pharmacies. And I thought ‘This will be really great’… until I remembered the stumbling block.”



It was “Come here baby angels” all over again. He didn’t know if he could do it.



Many of us shy away from public speaking. A 2014 survey by Chapman University found a fear of public speaking was the biggest phobia among respondents – 25.3% said they feared speaking in front of a crowd.


Of those who did present, nearly 70% agreed it was critical to their success at work。



However, that fear may be limiting our career opportunities. A survey of more than 600 employers in 2014 found that among the top skills recruiters look for, “oral communication” was number one and “presentation skills” number four; traditional management skills such as “managing administrative activities” came down at the bottom. Yet a 2014 online survey of 2,031 US workers found that 12% would willingly step aside to let someone else give a presentation, even if it lost them respect at work. Of those who did present, nearly 70% agreed it was critical to their success at work.

然而,这种恐惧可能会限制我们的工作机会。2014年通过对600多个雇主 的调查发现,招聘人员最看重的技能中,“口语交际能力”排第一位,“展示技能”排第四位;而传统的管理技能,比如“管理行政活动”,排名跌至后列。但是在2014年,一个关于2031位美国职员的线上调查发现,12%的人愿意将展示机会让给别人,即便他们会因此在工作中失去尊重。而那些发言的人中,近70%认为这是他们工作成功的关键。


It’s well documented that people with public speaking fears say it interferes with their life. There is much research showing that workplace anxiety can directly lead to lower work performance. While anecdotally, Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway has described her own fear of public speaking as being “career limiting”. Legendary investor Warren Buffett even credits a public speaking course as directly contributing to his success.

这是有据可查的,对公众演讲有恐惧的人说这干扰了他们的生活。众多研究表明,职场焦虑会直接导致较低的工作绩效。而有趣的是,金融时报的专栏作家Lucy Kellaway讲述她对公众演讲的恐惧成为了自己“职业上的限制”。传奇投资者华伦·巴菲特甚至把自己的成就归功于一个公众演讲课。


Despite the world of work being increasingly conducted behind computer screens, career progression is still about being seen and heard. An IBM report advising female managers on how to reach executive positions recommends volunteering for speaking engagements and panel discussions, alongside blogging or tweeting, to make your work known to the rest of the company.


Harvey Coleman, business consultant and influential author of Empowering Yourselfidentifies three key factors of career success as ‘performance’, ‘image’, and ‘exposure’. However, they aren’t equally split, he says, with exposure accounting for 60%, followed by image (30%) and performance (10%).

Harvey Coleman是一位企业顾问和颇具影响力的作者,他在《自我强化》一书中指出职业成功的三大要素——‘工作表现’ , ‘自我形象’以及’曝光率’。但是, 他说这三个因素的权重并不平均,曝光率占据60%,其次是自我形象(30%)和工作表现(10%)。


“Public speaking is no longer optional in your professional life,” agrees speaking coach Steve Bustin, author of The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking.

“公众演讲不再是你的职业生涯中的可选项,”演讲教练、《展示和公众演讲的权威指南》的作者Steve Bustin也一致同意。


The growing prominence of video conferencing means even working from home requires presenting skills.



“It’s an essential business skill that needs to be learned and practiced like any other skill,” he says. “Many job interviews, especially for senior level jobs, now require a presentation to the interview panel”


As video conferencing replaces phone calls, many workers find they have more face time with multiple colleagues not less. “The idea of communicating ‘one-to-many’ is very hot at the moment,” says Bustin. “Some conferences now aren’t flying speakers over, they are setting up a video link, and you have to present from your office.”

随着视频会议取代电话,许多职员发现他们与多个同事面对面交谈的时间会变得更多而不是减少。“目前, “一对多”的沟通理念是非常流行,”Bustin说。“一些会议不再需要演讲者飞来飞去,而是建立一个视频链接,并且你必须在你的办公室里进行展示。”


The popularity and influence of TED talks has also changed  audience expectations. Initially conceived as an annual conference on technology and design in Vancouver, Canada in 1984 and available online since 2006 under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”, the talks have become a cultural phenomenon. Featuring a range of experts talking for only 20 minutes, they’ve been viewed online more than a billion times and translated into more than 100 languages.



Bustin says the skill of these speakers has raised expectations for the rest of us. “You can now watch great speakers on YouTube, and when people go to conferences or work events, they expect the speakers to be that good…  the bar has been raised.”



For people who fear public speaking, that is not good news. Those who present to their peers only a few times a year find it hard to improve, says Occupational psychologist and business consultant Gary Luffman, based in Brighton, England.

对于那些害怕公众演讲的人来说,这可不是好消息。那些一年只在同事面前进行几次演讲的人发现他们很难提高,英国布赖顿的职业心理学家和商业顾问Gary Luffman如是说。


“Some of the people I work with might have to present once a year or once a quarter, and in those situations it’s very easy to stick your head in the sand and not think about it.””



Fight or flight?



The reason why we fear it, is natural and deeply-embedded. Our brains are three to four times more likely to see a threat than a reward, says Luffman. “So when faced with a group of people you don’t know… We move to threat mode”.



Our brain then slips into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, adrenaline is released into the body and the heart-rate increases – great if you want to run or fight, but if standing still this excess energy injection can constrict your throat and lead to blushing and sweating.

我们的大脑就会不知不觉地进入到 “战斗还是逃跑”模式。当这种情况发生时,肾上腺素会被释放到身体里,心跳会急剧加速,如果你想逃跑或者战斗还好,但如果站着不动的话,这些过量的能量注入会使能你的喉咙收缩,并且导致脸红、出汗。


Preparation is the secret of speaking success, say both Bustin and Luffman. Rather than learning your entire script verbatim, they recommend only memorising your opening two or three sentences, or first few minutes, so that you get off to a good start. After which, use cue-cards or slides to move through the subsequent stages of your presentation.



Luffman also suggests visualising the setting of the presentation beforehand, what the room will look like and where you will stand. “The brain reacts very similarly to doing as it does to thinking.



By focusing on themselves, many people often forget that public speaking is about engaging the audience



“So, if in advance, you paint a rich, visual picture in your mind… you start to reduce anxiety.”


There is, however, no substitute for practicing in front of people. Many people have joined international public speaking organisation Toastmasters to practice the skill – including Glen Savage. In 2000, when offered the choice between staying behind his pharmacy counter or standing up and delivering training, he chose to face his fear.

然而,没有什么可以代替在人前做演讲练习。很多人都加入了国际性的公众演讲组织Toastmasters以练习演讲技能,Glen Savage也是如此。在2000年,当面对是继续留在他的药房柜台后面还是站在人前去提供培训这两个选择时,他选择了面对自己的恐惧。


With the additional help of NLP training – Neuro Linguistic Programming, which focuses on the language structure and behavioural patterns of individuals – he began to overcome his “limiting beliefs and anxieties”. The turning point was a key piece of advice: “It’s not about you, it’s about the audience. For most people who experience public speaking fear, it’s based around self-focus, ‘What if I’m a disaster? What if I fail?’… actually, the important thing is that the message gets across to the audience. If they like you, that’s just a bonus.”



More than 50 years after his nativity nightmare, Savage walked on stage to deliver a keynote speech at the 2015 APP Australian Pharmacy Professional conference – a four-day conference which attracts more than 4,000 delegates. “I was thinking, this is a pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to these people and share some ideas… rather than thinking ‘Oh, this is traumatic.’” He is now a regular conference speaker, and coaches others to overcome their fears.



Does he ever wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t decided to improve? “It would definitely have limited my career. I think I would have just plateaued.”


英文原文来自BBC, 由杰特教育翻译整理


图片版权:Getty Images