If just the thought of having to present or answer an impromptu question at an upcoming meeting makes your stomach tie in a knot, your hands sweat and your heart race, then this is for you.
A common question that we’re asked is: “will virtual public speaking and communication skills training really help?”. And our answer is a resounding: yes, 100% it can. In fact, virtual training is THE best way to start overcoming your fear of public speaking when you’re just starting out. Here’s why 👇🏻
1. Virtual training is an important first step in the confidence-building process
Speaking can be a *very* intimidating experience for those who are just starting their public speaking journey. Standing up in front of an in-person audience is a common approach in some training programs, but it’s usually not effective and can even erode the participant’s confidence (instead of developing it).
When psychologists work with patients who struggle with a specific fear (let’s say a fear of dogs) their solution is not to put them in a room full of golden retrievers, no matter how cute they are. Instead, they start off by inviting their client to just look at a picture of a dog. Then, once they are comfortable with that, they will invite them to look at a real dog from a distance. Then stand beside the dog. Then pet the dog….until, they feel comfortable enough taking the dog for a walk (and one day, they might even be excited to walk into that room full of fluffy goldens!). This technique is called exposure therapy and is used to treat phobias and anxiety.
The point is, overcoming a fear is a step-by-step process. The fear of public speaking works the same way: achieving a bigger goal (like delivering a company-wide presentation) starts with breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. And virtual training serves as that important first step as one works towards building their speaking confidence.
2. Virtual training helps you practice more frequently & consistently
A key pillar of the confidence-building process is to practice frequently and consistently. Think about when you first started to learn how to ride a bike. At first, you probably felt nervous—you might go too fast, fall and maybe even scrape your knee. But the more you rode, the easier (and less nerve-wracking) the experience became. Until eventually, you didn’t give it a second thought and just hopped on your bike and went on your way. Public speaking and communication is a skill that, just like learning to ride a bike, requires ongoing practice.
Virtual training is an excellent way to promote consistent (and frequent) practice since attending training sessions are so simple, easy and convenient. No fighting traffic, finding parking and battling snow and rain. Virtual training removes all the barriers so that it’s easy to practice consistently over the long term.
3. Virtual Training Is More Accessible
Commuting in-person to training programs creates another issue: they become difficult to access for people that don’t live in the area. It can also be prohibitive for those who have longer working hours, have child-care commitments, rely on public transit, and live in colder climates where there is snow (and lots of it). With these barriers, it’s easy to see how attendance – and practice – can fall by the wayside over time.
That’s the great thing about virtual training; it’s completely accessible wherever you are in the world. It’s as simple as logging into a meeting from your computer, whether you’re at home, at work or on a beach in Mexico. You have the ability to continue practicing your skills, wherever you are in the world so you don’t miss a beat.
4. Virtual training is more affordable
If you’ve done any research on public speaking and communication courses, you know that they are expensive. Why? Because a large part of the training fee is actually going towards things like:
- Room rentals
- Facilitator parking
- After hour staffing
As a result, the cost of the training session can be prohibitively expensive (we’re talking $1.5k-$3k for a 4-5 week course). Virtual training removes expenses that are typically passed on to the client (that’s you) for things you don’t want or need, making it a much more affordable option, especially for those who are just starting out.
5. Virtual training can expand your professional network
Finally, because virtual training is so accessible, people from various cities across the country can train, practice and build relationships together in the same sessions. This presents a great opportunity to meet people beyond the local business community—who may turn out to be your new mentor, employer, client or friend.
Key takeaway: virtual training is a great option for new speakers.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking to build your speaking confidence, tackle feelings of nervousness/speaking anxiety, and want to practice consistently, virtual training is a great first step as you work towards your larger speaking goal.