Many People Fear Public Speaking, but the Activity Can be Learned…and Support Brain Power
Public speaking is a common phobia, with roughly a quarter of all people dreading the thought of standing before an audience to give a presentation. But practicing the art of giving a speech has many benefits, not the least of which is giving your brain a good workout.
A key benefit of public speaking is an increased ability to think critically, say experts who teach this form of communication.
Preparing for a speech requires many critical thinking skills, such as viewing problems from multiple angles, analyzing potential costs and benefits, researching credible and persuasive sources, and organizing the speech in a way that is interesting and informative.
Other benefits of public speaking include honing verbal and nonverbal communication skills, providing opportunities to influence events, and becoming a go-to person for ideas and solutions.
Such benefits can help to support cognitive health, which includes the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember, according to National Institute of Aging. Cognitive health is one aspect of overall brain health.
But what about the fear factor? Experts suggest ways to overcome the phobia of public speaking. Tips include knowing the topic well, being organized, practicing, and engaging in relaxation techniques before you go on.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find public speaking doesn’t have to take place in a formal setting, such as standing at a podium or toasting the bride and groom at a wedding. Many opportunities exist for people to engage in this activity, including lifelong-learning classes, book clubs, service organizations, community volunteer programs, and speech and toasting clubs. A quick internet search will turn up many local listings.
Public speaking has the added benefit of creating social engagement, another important factor in supporting brain health. Health experts have long been concerned about rising levels of social isolation and loneliness on public health.
A full 35% of adults aged 45 and older and 43% of adults aged 60 and older report being lonely, according to a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Pharmacists can encourage their clients to consider getting involved in their communities, and to look for ways they can make their voice heard with the public.