Legal & Financial: Speaking the Last Word in Stress; Directors Daunted by Presenting to Public

Article excerpt

Public speaking is considered the most nerve-wracking business activity facing company directors, according to the findings of this year's Aziz Management Communication Index.

Seventy per cent of directors claimed to be more daunted by public speaking than by any other business activity, with this figure rising to 88 per cent among finance directors.

Moreover, presenting to a large business audience is considered more difficult than complex business tasks such as reviewing financial data, preparing business and managing employees.

However, despite being afraid of public speaking, the majority of directors recognise that this is a vital skill for a successful career. When asked to rank various attributes in terms of importance for career success, they rated presentation skills as third, just behind good business judgement and hard work.

The survey pinpointed a number of public speaking activities that create anxiety.

Directors found TV interviews and conference speaking especially worrying - 82 per cent of directors are very or fairly worried when giving media interviews, while 69 per cent feel the same about presenting to a large audience of their business peers.

Finance directors, in particular, are perturbed by conference speaking - 80 per cent would be worried by this task, as would 77 per cent of personnel directors.

Presenting to the City is also considered nerve-wracking, with more than two-thirds being edgy. By contrast, internal presentations are viewed as an easier task, with less than a third of directors claiming to be worried when presenting to the board.

Only seven per cent being nervous at the prospect of addressing employees at a social gathering.

Worryingly, the survey also showed that, despite being afraid of public speaking, it was a task directors are required to carry out on a regular basis.

Fifty-nine per cent present at a large business conference at least once a year, while more than a third give a formal presentation to existing or potential clients once a month or more. …