Q : I'm working for a mid-level company as a junior software engineer. Every now and then, I get asked to to give presentations to the company about what my team accomplished during a recent sprint. I understand that employees need to give presentations, but I absolutely hate public speaking with a passion. How can I politely decline requests to talk without looking like a bad team member?
A : If you're looking for an easy out, I'm afraid we've got some bad news. Public speaking has become mandatory in tech. As tech teams become integral parts of a company's machine, explaining your work to an audience of non-techies is important.
But you're not alone. Glossophobia (or the fear of public speaking) affects up to 75% of the population. But there's a surefire way of curing it: practice. You've got to buck up some courage, dust yourself down and force yourself to do it.
Public speaking is like a muscle. If you exercise it, it will get stronger. Joining a public speaking club like Toastmasters will allow you to practice speaking in a supportive and safe environment. Think of it as a gym for your voice where everyone is on your side. Toastmasters is a fantastic program. It develops your communication skills with a series of speeches, each designed to improve and test different communication areas. And at £120 a year, it's one of the most affordable public speaking courses.
With time, the idea of presenting to a group of people will become old hat. It takes courage, but remember: everyone's on your side.
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