Soccer shootouts and Public speaking

A growing legion of scientists are studying soccer shootouts, the free kicks given to each team to break a tie game.  A make or a miss can lead to infamy for the kicker.  It is an intense psychological moment.  In studying penalty kicks, scientists are investigating visual attention – the ability to zero in on specific subject in the midst of a vast amount of sensory information. In soccer, that means being focused on where you want to place the ball and not on the goal keeper.

The fear of public speaking is purported to have passed the fear of death. Jerry Seinfeld picked up on this finding by quipping, "more people would rather be in the casket then give the eulogy". Now why would that be?

The point? Clarity is the antidote to anxiety. In both soccer shootouts and public speaking not being clear and certain about your goal and the outcome you would like to achieve creates great unease. Pressure engenders anxiety and anxiety, in turn, affects performance. If you are under pressure and feel uncertain about your ability to create a positive outcome, you will be unable to control your attention.

In times of pressure, practice the art of attention by being crystal clear, intensely focused on your goals and the outcomes you want to achieve.

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One comment on “Soccer shootouts and Public speaking
  1. Great stuff, friend.
    I have long thought that the root of the fear of public speaking is no one ever learns how to do it and is unprepared. “WHAT WOULD I SAY/ WHO WOULD LISTEN TO ME?”
    When I do my “The Author as Speaker” workshops at writers conferences I say, “If you get published ANYWHERE, you will be invited to speak SOMEWHERE. Don’t wait until you are invited to realize you don’t know how and it’s too late to learn.”
    Anyone would benefit from learning to speak in public–Google: “Dynamic Communicators Workshop” and GO!

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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