Overcoming the Fear of Speaking in Public

Public speaking is a requirement and responsibility that comes with most jobs and academic endeavors in today’s fast-paced world. Just having knowledge is not enough – you must also be able to express that knowledge to groups of people.

Whether you’re employed in a position that requires you to speak in public, need to use presentations to network or generate clients for your entrepreneurial pursuits, or you have the responsibility of presenting to a classroom or social group, eliminating your fears of being center stage will help you immensely.

Mastering public speaking can take some effort, but the benefits are always worth it.  Don’t feel that you have to “master” public speaking in the next half-hour, but getting more comfortable with speaking in front of groups does take time. Each step you take forward will help you to build your comfort level and expertise.

Of course, there are some people who seem to be born with the talent, but the majority of us can learn these skills over a period of  time with consistent, smart practice. Like you, many good speakers started out with a need to overcome their fear of the very thing they now excel at!

What could be hindering your progress?

Fear of Public Speaking: Common Triggers

Typically, people afraid of speaking in public are challenged by a preconceived notion about what could happen, which becomes a deterrent for any public speaking endeavor. You might fear getting a negative response from the audience, or perhaps you fear the embarrassment that may come from making a mistake in public.

Try thinking of it this way: what if you got a positive response from the audience? The good news is that there are actions you can take to tilt the odds into your favor, so the most likely outcome is a positive response! Feeling more confident that your public speaking will result in a good experience can help you overcome your fear.

Try one or more of these techniques to help ensure a positive outcome and lessen or even eliminate the fear you feel when speaking in public:

  1. Be prepared. The more prepared you are for your speech the smoother your presentation will come across. Do what is necessary to ensure that you’re thoroughly prepared.
  2. Do thorough research on your subject. Knowing your content inside and out is a great way to eliminate many of your fears. In fact, once you’ve done thorough research, you can probably deliver the speech without looking at your notes!
  3. Practice your speech. Maybe you’ve been in the situation where your speech didn’t come across as well as you would have liked because you didn’t practice it enough. And because it didn’t go well, you felt devastated and insistent on never doing public speaking again. However, you mustn’t let that fear conquer you. Instead:
  • Spend enough time reading and re-reading your speech so that you become comfortable. Just like with subjects in school, you’ll eventually be able to commit much of the content to memory by rehearsing over and over again.
  • Try to identify sections and references in your speech that you’re able to freely speak about from your existing knowledge base. Not only does it show your prowess, but it also helps you relax while presenting! Feeling that you “know your stuff” can help raise your confidence level, and that will come through in your delivery.

4.  Invite a friendly audience for a private presentation. Requesting the help of supportive family members and friends can help to squash any doubts you have about speaking in public. A good idea would be to invite a few of them over and make your presentation to them as your audience. Not only will they be able to give constructive feedback, but they’ll also help to calm your nerves.

 

As with anything else, the effort you put into perfecting the art of public speaking will undoubtedly contribute to dissolving any fears you may have. Show your audience what you’re made of by becoming a fearless master of speaking in public!