FearBreaker

Type of tool: 
Activity
Duration: 
90-120 min
Topics addressed: 
Coaching
Communication
Group dynamics

FearBreaker is an educational tool used to reduce public speaking anxiety and familiarize the participants with public speaking contexts causing anxiety.

Aim: 

To raise awareness and reduce the symptoms of public speaking anxiety.

Methodology: 

The tool includes self-assessment questionnaire and the assessment of the presence of fear and anxiety, cards with public speaking tasks, and cards with instructions for the audience. Throughout the game the participants exercise their public speaking skills but are also becoming more aware of the anxiety symptoms.

Step by step process: 

The tool includes several activities. First activity is the self-assessment of the public speaking anxiety, followed by audience awareness, speaker’s presence and, of course, speaking in different conditions.
1. Looking PSA in the eyes
After announcing the tool or the activities, the moderator gives each participant a self-assessment sheet. After filling the questionnaire, they add the numbers and the moderator writes down the results. The participants with lower scores will be the first to deliver their introduction speeches (Activity 3).
Time needed: up to 5 min
2. Speechless speakers
The task for the participants is to stand up, come out in front of the audience (or at the platform if there is any), non-verbally connect with the audience (look and smile at the audience) and return to their seat.
Time needed: up to 3 minutes (depending on the number of participants).
3. Speech of introduction
Third activity is the first speaking task. The moderator gives instructions for both speaking and listening.
The speaking task is an introduction speech - the story about person’s name. It could be useful if the moderator tells the story, i.e. “Names are often inherited before inheritance comes as a such, therefore the most frequent question about a name is who was it given after. Usually, names are given after Grandmas, Grandpas or Uncles. I was given a name after a car. Back in the eighties, Diana was a pretty popular car in this part of the world and my father, a mechanical engineer, could not resist the temptation. Needless to say, my sister’s name is Iskra (Slovenian electronic brand and factory was called Iskra). However, if I want to be posh, I say I was named after the late princess Diana. The moderator can also tell a shorter, invented story or his or her personal story). The audience also has a task to be supportive and positive. So, there is no talking, shushing, everyone listens attentively and gives positive non-verbal feedback.
Time needed: 3 min for speech preparation and 30 seconds for delivery
3 min instructions + 3 min preparation +1 min x number of participants (6+8 =14  20 min)
4. Object presentation
Activity four is the second speaking task. Moderator gives one instruction for the speaking activity and two for listening. The moderator shares the speaking task cards with only one word. Speaker’s task is to talk one minute about the particular word. He/She can tell a story, describe the object, explain its purpose. The audience must be disinterested. The moderator gives audience cards with instructions on how to behave. The second task is to observe the speaker and notice the public speaking anxiety symptoms, write them down on the audience assessment sheet and tell them to the speaker at the end of the game. Possible symptoms can be voice trembling, looking at one side, sweating etc. The symptoms will be commented on during reflection/debriefing.
Time needed: 1 minute for prepapration and 1 minute for delivery
3 minutes instructions, + 1 minute preparation 6+ 2 min x number of participants (3+1+ 16 =20 30 min)
5. Public speaking
Activity five is the third speaking task. Moderator instructs participants for both roles, speaker’s and audience’s. First, the speaking task cards are distributed and participants’ skim them. The speakers must complete the task in a minute. The audience has two tasks, as well. One during the speeches and the other after. During the speech each audience member must behave negatively. They receive the cards describing what to do. The audience also assesses the visibility of PSA symptoms on 1 to 5 scale (1 no PSA whatsoever and 5 very expressed PSA). The results will be averaged and interpreted during reflection/debriefing.
Time needed: 30 seconds preparation + 1 minute delivery
3 min – instructions, 30 seconds – preparation 2 min x number of participants (3+1+ 16 =20  30 min)
6. Reflection / debriefing
Before the reflection activity, the participants have a few minutes to fill in the post-activity self-assesssment questionnaire. After that, the participants read the PSA symptoms (one to two words) for each participant and the grades for the third activity. After the speaker has written down all of his/her data the debriefing activity can start. Possible directions for this activity – commenting whether the results were expected, what the participants were aware of and what not, who made the greatest progress… If the competitive element is included, this is the time to say who the winner is.
Time needed: cca 25 minutes

Materials and resources: 

1. Self-assessment sheet
2. Speaking task2 – object presentation – CARDS
3. Speaking task3 – public speaking – CARDS
4. Audience cards – 2nd round – neutral audience
5. Audience cards – 3rd round – negative audience
6. Notes for audience
7. (optional) some paper and pens – just in case

Outcomes: 

Public speaking fear is being contextualized from both speaker’s and audience’s perspective. The experiential learning process helps the participants to put public speaking anxiety in a realistic perspective and realize that it shouldn’t be communication obstacle.

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DISCLAIMER: SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

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