Public Speaking Fear is quite common. In fact, 3 in every four people are afraid of speaking in public. Regardless of the numbers from researches, this is a prevalent problem, so much so that every one of us might have faced it or seen people who suffer from it. I have got a more in-depth article on how to overcome public speaking anxiety, which I feel is a major follow-up to read after this one, please check it here.
We can go back to our school days, college, or even at the working place and we will remember that one person who was so nervous and afraid of presenting his/her ideas, solutions and thoughts that it ended up looking as if he/she did not know about the topic.
In today’s post, I am going to be sharing with you some of the tips I picked up and used during my days of learning to control my emotions and deliver speeches to small and large audiences alike, and I believe that if you practice them, you too can become a more capable speaker.
Interesting Related Article: Why do You Sweat when Presenting and how to Manage it
1. Overcome Public Speaking Fear by Giving your First Step
Fear is most often a self-protection mechanism; it allows us to flee from danger or avoid it. The thing is though, sometimes fear also paralyzes us and prevents us from running away from danger or confront it. However, if we can manage to overcome that fear we grow and open up lots of new opportunities for ourselves.
For this topic, how to overcome public speaking fear, the very first step would be to assess the reasons behind that fear. It could be related to being afraid of embarrassment in front of others, to your body or complexion, to the amount of experience and skills that you have on the topic, the type of audience you are presenting to or, it could be a more severe problem (anxiety disorder).
The best way to move when you are suffering from anxiety disorders is to look for professional help; many psychologists specialize in helping people overcome public speaking fear.
You need to recognize the fact that you are afraid of speaking in public, that doing so would open up many opportunities for you and that you want to get better at it. Many people use different methods to conquer their public speaking fear, from seeking professional help to practicing until they become comfortable doing it.
If your case is something along the following lines:
“I am afraid people will not like what I have to say.” or
“Not sure if I will remember all the points of my speech.” or
“I have no confidence in presenting in front of experts, what if someone asks a complicated question?”
“What if I stutter?”
“My family or the President will be watching me; I will freeze in the middle of the presentation.”
Well, you know what I have been through all of those situations above, I could also add job interviews, and the times I tried to ask a girl out and got rejected.
I feel your pain, and I have been there, below are some of the tips that helped me go through overcoming my fear of public speaking:
2. Research Rehearse Repeat
Assuming that you came to this post because you want to overcome your fear of speaking in front of others, then let us move on to the things you can do that will help you out.
I learned with time that the more information you have on the topic, the better, especially if you have some reliable sources and numbers, people love numbers, charts, and trends. That is the first step – Research.
The second step, Rehearse, is also critical. After you have put together a summary of your findings from research, move on to rehearse and practice either in front of the mirror, record a video or audio of yourself speaking, or ask a trusted friend/family member to hear you out and give their feedback.
When you are starting out, I advise that you rehearse at least 5-10 times, before going to the venue.
The last step of this method is Repeat. After you have your speech and rehearsals done, provided you have enough time, research a bit more on the topic perhaps you will get a few additional references, quotes and most importantly confidence.
Please note that you should not be adding more material to your speech when you are done rehearsing as this can come in the way of your presentation later. Use the additional knowledge, references or quotes to answer questions after or during the speech.
3. Speak Slowly and Use Gestures
The big day arrives, and all your efforts to make sure you can deliver the most fantastic speech are now going to be put to the test.
To cope with your nervousness about speaking in public, using gestures, walking around on the stage and talking at a slow pace can be a good trick. Also, have some bullet points in your slideshow, or paper at hand to guide you through, don’t write too much in it that you will stare at it.
4. Be Comfortable to Pause and Breath
Another trick I used often was just to pause and take a breath in between slideshows or perhaps when you make a question to your audience. That allows you to organize your thoughts and move on to the next point of discussion or respond to questions asked during your speech.
Ah yes! And, it works fine when you have that meanie you ask you tricky questions or, try to provoke you during your speech. Take a deep breath, appreciate the person for taking the time to ask questions, if you know the answer then give it, if not, then just tell them that you will check and feedback after the event is done.
5. Keep Looking at Your Audience
When I started delivering speeches to large crowds, I was afraid of looking at the people, so I would look up or fix my eyes on my notes. My teacher gave me the following advice:
“If you are not looking at them, they won’t respect your speech even if the content is good. Looking at them shows appreciation, and it shows that you are talking to them. If you are nervous to look them in the eye, then look at their foreheads, and make sure you are looking at all of them left and right.”
I have followed that advice for a while; it worked for me so well, that without me realizing sometime later I was looking people in the face. Which goes a long way to show that you are there, with your audience.
Interacting with your audience can give you the breaks and time you need to refocus and calm your nerves. For example, you can ask them questions, make a live demonstration, and inviting them to participate, play games, and give answers to their concerns or queries.
7. Highlight and Summarize Key Points
When you are about to complete your speech, please go through all the main points of your topic, the ones that you want them to remember.
A speech is one of the best forms of communicating and passing information, with it you have the chance to make an impression that can last a lifetime.
So, it’s really worth it to summarize everything you said (even if you realize that I forgot to mention a few things), with the summary your objective will be achieved, and you now one step closer to overcome public speaking fear.
8. Appreciate their Attention
At the very end, thank all attendees for their presence, for their feedback, and participation in the interactive activities that you asked them to participate in.
Tell them that you have had a good time and that you hope they had a good time too and, that you are available for questions. If the time is short, then share with them your contacts for further clarification.
I added this point because if you learn to connect with your audience and appreciate them, then it will become a pleasurable experience for you too. At this point, you will no longer be afraid of speaking in public; you will love it.
Accept the fact that public speaking fear is a reality and you have to deal with it, whether it’s through seeking professional help, your teachers, friends, and Know that it is quite a regular occurrence, and many people overcome it by getting help, by practicing until they get better at it.
Researching, Rehearsing, and Repeat, know that one of the main reasons behind public speaking fear challenges is the fact that you don’t feel confident in your expertise on the topic you’re presenting. By Researching, Rehearsing, and Repeating enough you make sure you have enough material to cover in your speech and that you are familiarized with the concepts and confident enough to deliver them.
Speak Slowly and Use Gestures – I find it to be quite soothing for me to use my hands to go along with what I am saying. I am a fast talker by the way.
Keep Looking at your Audience – if you are afraid to look at your audience in the eye, then start off by looking at their foreheads, without you noticing you will get comfortable at looking them in the eye.
Interact with your Audience – you can get some time to deal with your anxiety by allowing your audience to participate, ask them questions, ask for their experiences in the topic and then comment on top of it with your experience and knowledge.
Highlight and Summarize Key Points – even if you got nervous at some point and missed something, by the end of your speech you can always include it in the summary of your topic.
Appreciate Their Attention – be polite and thank your audience for attending, for participating and share your contact details for further questions.
Thank you for reading this far, I really appreciate it.
Please share your thoughts and comments below; I’d like to hear from you. What were other tips useful in helping you succeed in overcoming public speaking fear?
Take some time to read our 2500+ long eBook, and learn the tips that I have used and shared with others in the past, and they have proved to be quite effective if applied and practiced enough to make you a memorable speaker. You can also click on the image below, it will redirect you to the landing page.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
Please find below 3 resources for further reading, one of them is from Brian Tracy one of the most eloquent speakers of our time. He gives out 27 tips to help you with public speaking fear challenges. Enjoy!
Brian Tracy, 27 Useful tips to overcome your fear of public speaking. https://www.briantracy.com/blog/public-speaking/27-useful-tips-to-overcome-your-fear-of-public-speaking/ . Accessed on 07/18/2019.
Darrel Zahorsky, 7 Tips to help you overcome your fear of
The Anxiety Coach. Fear of Public Speaking: The fear that stalls careers. https://www.anxietycoach.com/fear-of-public-speaking.html . Accessed on 07/18/2019.