6 Tips To Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

master social anxiety

The fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears in the world. People are more terrified of public speaking than death. This means at a funeral most people would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy. If you question this fear you will slowly start to realize how irrational it is. I used to be terrified of public speaking and still am to this day.

Even the best public speakers in the world feel anxiety before getting on stage. Fear of public speaking is a natural biologic reaction which never quite goes away. However, it is possible to dramatically reduce the fear of public speaking and make it manageable.

The first time I had to give a speech was in the 7th grade. Being a shy kid, my parents had forced me to enter a public speaking competition to “bring me out of my shell”. When they called my name to get to the stage I was terrified.

The well rehearsed speech I spent hours memorizing went blank. There was no podium to hide my shaking legs. I forgot most of my speech and looked like a complete idiot in front of 200 people. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

After that embarrassing event I started to feel a change. I was angry at myself for being such a coward and decided that I had to get this part of my life handled. I started participating in class more and tried to find as many as many opportunities to do public speaking as possible.

I entered the same public speaking competing again next year and came in 4th. I didn’t win, but I realized that public speaking is a skill set just like playing the piano or chess. It’s something you can learn and become better at through practice.

Since that embarrassing speech completion in the 7th grade I have dramatically reduced my fear of public speaking and gone on to give dozens of speeches throughout the years. One of my biggest speech successes was when I ran for student council president and had to give a speech in front of 2000 people.

I ended up winning by a landslide, and that would never have been possible if I hadn’t learned to improve my public speaking skills. I still feel nervous when going up on stage, but after 30 seconds I begin to enjoy the rush, and feed of the energy of the crowd. There is no better feeling than conquering your fear and giving a brilliant speech.

Mastering this skill set has given me immense confidence and a great sense of accomplishment. Here are some of the tips I followed to overcome the fear of public speaking:

  1. Start small. If the thought of speaking to crowd makes you shutter in fear, it’s ok. Take baby steps. Begin by talking to a small group of close friends or family. If you’re too shy to do that, practice in front of a mirror or into camera?. Challenge yourself to speak to bigger and bigger groups . Try taking a program like Toast Masters. It’s a great program that teaches people how to slowly overcome their fear of public speaking.
  2. Don’t memorize your speech. The anxiety of giving a speech will make you go blank and will have difficulty remembering your speech which will make you even more anxious. This a negative feedback loop. Instead, focus on a 2-3 main points and have an overall understanding of the subject matter.
  3. Understand your topic: You will be a lot more confident if you thoroughly understand your topic. Take time to prepare your points.
  4. Challenge Irrational Beliefs: People are not viscous monsters who want to see you embarrass yourself. Almost everybody has a fear of public speaking so they will understand if you are a bit nervous.
  5. Relax:  You will feel the most anxious the minute before you have to go on stage. Be aware of your nervous thoughts and don’t let them bog you down.
  6. Visualization: I have saved the best for last. Incorporating visualization exercises has dramatically increased my public speaking abilities. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and something you vividly imagine. Take advantage of this principle and mentally rehearse everyday leading up to the speech. Make the visualization as real as possible. Take a few deep breaths, and relax. Imagine the stage, the lights, your heartbeat, etc. Imagine giving your speech in front of everyone.  The more realistic you make your visualization the more powerful the results will be.

Do you have any tips to overcome fear of public speaking? If so please share in the comments section below.

One Response to 6 Tips To Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

  1. […] No one is suggesting that if your fear is of standing in front of a large audience, you just go out there. The suggestion here is to start small. Use three or four people to practice your speech with and work your way up to six or seven and so on. Check out my article on how to overcome fear of public speaking. […]

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