How To Overcome Public Speaking Fears

How To Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Does the thought of speaking to a group of people send shivers down your spine? Do you break into a sweat and can’t find your voice when you need to speak publicly? Then you most likely have glossophobia which is the fear of public speaking. Not to worry, this article has been written to help you overcome this fear. In this article, you will learn tips on how to overcome public speaking fears.

You might have considered ditching public speaking because of your phobia of it.

But as a business owner or leader, public speaking might be one of your many responsibilities.

Therefore, ditching public speaking is not a solid plan; you just have to overcome your fears.

So, ensure you follow us till the end of this article.

At the end of this read, you should know everything you need to overcome your public speaking fears.

Let’s begin…

What Is Glossophobia – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Glossophobia simply means the fear of speaking publicly.

This phobia is not the same as when a person gets nervous or feels a little bit scared when they speak in public.

Glossophobia makes it hard for a person to have control over their nerves when they are speaking publicly.

The person would also feel an irrational and extreme fear.

This is often accompanied by rapid heartbeats, sweating, and even physical trembling. 

Sadly, these fears are sometimes not limited to when a person has to address a large audience.

A person might experience public speaking fears even when they are speaking to a small group of people, like in a classroom or meeting.

If you are a business owner or leader with glossophobia, then you may have a hard time communicating your thoughts and ideas verbally.

This is why overcoming this fear is very important.

What Happens When You Have Public Speaking Fears – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Being scared when speaking publicly often affects a person’s speech or presentation quality.

This is because they may exhibit some signs that the audience might notice.

The following are some of the things that may happen when you have the fear of speaking publicly.

You Might Speak with a Flat Tone And/or Too Quickly

When you get scared during a public presentation, you may start rushing your words.

Or you may start speaking with a flat tone.

Sometimes, you may do both.

If you start talking too fast, your breathing will be affected.

You won’t be able to breathe comfortably, and your breathing may become shallow.  

When this happens, you would start feeling like you are suffocating and can’t breathe.

This would only heighten the fears you were already feeling and make it even more difficult for you to give your presentation or speech.

Also, when you speak too fast, your audience will have a hard time understanding or even enjoying what you’re saying.

The following are some of the issues that speaking too fast results in:

  • Your audience will have a hard time understanding you
  • You will sound monotonous because you won’t have enough vocal range
  • Your audience will sense your nervousness
  • You won’t breathe well enough

You Might Struggle to Mask Your Fears – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Because you are scared, you may spend all your time trying to conceal your fears.

The sad truth is that you would likely fail at doing this.

However, you will succeed in making yourself even more anxious and nervous as you try to mask your fears.

Aside from this, hiding your fears may make you undermine your efforts at the end of the day.

Even though the speech had gone well despite your fears, you may make yourself feel it wasn’t successful because you spent the whole time trying to not look scared.

You Will Ignore Your Audience – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

In a bid to hide or reduce your anxiety and nervousness, you may start ignoring your audience.

You might find yourself avoiding eye contact with members of the audience.

Ignoring the audience will give you more than enough time to concentrate on your thoughts.

And as a fearful speaker, your opinions and thoughts most likely will be very negative and would only make you feel more scared.

Why Do People Experience Fears When Public Speaking – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Knowing the reasons you get so afraid to speak publicly is the first step towards overcoming your fears.

This is why this section discusses the reason people have glossophobia.

During the earlier years of humanity, humans used to be prey to dangerous predators.

Therefore, they were always in survival mode.

It soon got etched into the human brain that not having a weapon, being in an exposed space without a hiding place can reduce the chances of survival.

And even though humans are no longer prey, the human brain still sends a flight response whenever a person is in any of the above situations.

Sadly, these are the exact situations you are made to face whenever you speak publicly.

You would be required to stand alone, with no weapon, in the open, with all eyes on you, and without a hiding place.

Due to all these, your brain will tell you that you are in danger and you would begin to exhibit the signs of glossophobia.

The big question now is how do you overcome this crippling fear so that you can take charge like the boss you are when you have to speak publicly?

Simple, the next section discusses some tips that will help you along the way to becoming a less nervous public speaker.

Tips on How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

So far, you have learned what public speaking fears can result in and why you may be experiencing these fears.

However, simply knowing how and why you experience public speaking fears is not enough to overcome them.

You also need to know the right tips that you have to follow and practice for you to let go of your fear of speaking publicly.

Luckily, this section discusses some of these tips that will help you overcome this phobia.

However, you should know that simply knowing these tips won’t be enough to overcome your phobia of speaking publicly.

You would need to practice them for them to do you any good.

With that being said, let’s discuss them.

1. Start with A Small Audience – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

If you are new to public speaking, then your first audience doesn’t have to be a big crowd.

You can start small and then gradually build yourself to the point where you can address a large audience.

For instance, you can gather your family members and/or friends and practice your speech on them.

If you have an incoming presentation or speech where you have to speak to a large audience, then practicing with your friends and/or family is a good way to get prepared.

When the time eventually comes for you to address the larger audience, you can imagine that you are back in your living room surrounded by your family.

This would help you cope with speaking to a larger audience.

2. Make Sure You Are Prepared

Being prepared is one way to ensure you do not get overwhelmed when you are addressing a group.

When you know your material, you would feel confident that you know what you are talking about.

Not only will being prepared make you feel confident, but it will also make it easier for you to connect with the audience.

Take time to plan everything about the presentation from the beginning to the end.

Prepare a backup material; this way, if you have leftover time after exhausting your material, you would still have something to say.

3. Practice Out Loud – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Remember that practice makes perfect.

So, if you want to get better at speaking, you have to keep speaking at any chance you get.

Not just speaking randomly but giving your speech.

There are several methods through which you can practice aloud.

For instance, you can give your speech to someone close to you such as a family member or friend.

You can also practice while standing in front of your mirror; a full-length mirror is an ideal choice as you can watch your full-body movement with it.

Another way to practice is to use a video conference platform

These are just a few methods you can use to practice your speech.

There are several other options.

You just need to consider all the options and then decide on which one works better for you.

4. Do Not Memorize Your Speech

One of the many reasons people are scared of speaking publicly is the fear that they may forget what they have to say.

When you write a script for your speech and memorize it, you may end up forgetting a line from the script.

If this happens, chances are you would go into panic mode and ruin the entire presentation.

So, does this mean you shouldn’t write a script for your presentation?

No, remember that you need to plan for your speech and part of planning is writing a script.

However, rather than writing the entire speech out, let your script simply contain bullet points, and/or subtopics, and other focal points.

Aside from forgetting your lines, when you memorize your speech, you may sound boring to your audience.

This would make it difficult for them to connect with you even though what you are saying is impactful.

Yes, not having a script that you can fall back on can be daunting and might even make you more anxious.

But the downsides of writing your entire speech out and memorizing it far outweigh its benefits.

5. Do Not Forget Why You Are There

If you have to speak publicly, then it is most likely because you have proven to be someone worthy of passing on knowledge.

It means you have enough knowledge and expertise and people would value what you have to say.

This in itself should be enough to boost your confidence level and make you less scared of saying anything wrong or making a mistake.

This thought should be enough to calm you down and make you braver.

Let go of the idea that your audience is simply there to criticize or judge what you say.

This isn’t true as the audience is usually looking to learn from the speaker.

Most times, when the speaker makes a mistake, the audience won’t even know.

6. Research Your Audience – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

While preparing for your presentation, one thing you need to do is to research the crowd you would be addressing.

The audience you would be addressing typically should influence your speech’s humor, language, length, and so on.

You can understand your audience by doing the following:

  • Find out how big or small the audience will be; the audience size will give you an idea of how to structure your presentation, like when you should have the Q&A session
  • If it is a conference, find out who else would be speaking and what their presentation would be on
  • Learn more about the event
  • When members of the audience walk into the venue, you could stay by the door and ask them some questions about what they are expecting from the presentation, their expertise, and their background

7. Make Your Introduction and Conclusion Impactful – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Your speech opening is the foundation of the speech.

It is what sets the speech’s tone and determines how impactful your speech would be.

Similarly, your conclusion is that piece you leave with your audience.

Therefore, both your opening and closing have to be impactful and attention-grabbing.

When you grab your audience’s attention with your opening, you will feel good about yourself.

This would make your confidence increase and make reduce your anxiety and nervousness.

So, do not leave these important aspects of your speech to chance.

Rather, write them out and then practice them until you can confidently deliver them.

8. Do Not Rely Completely on Technology

If there’s anything that can suck out your confidence and bravery faster than forgetting your lines, it is having issues with your technology.

So, you have to get familiar with everything tech you would be using for your presentation.

You should also have backup plans in case of technological issues.

For instance, if you are meant to have a PowerPoint presentation at some point during your speech, you can print out that part.

This way, if the computer or projector doesn’t work, you can give the printed copies to the audience and not get anxious that your presentation could get ruined.

9. Take Breaks – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Taking a break in between your speech is a simple yet effective method to calm your nerves.

Whenever you feel yourself breathing shallowly or rapidly you should take a break and steady your breathing.

When you’ve made a point or two, stop talking and exhale and inhale slowly.

A little silence won’t hurt anyone and isn’t wrong unlike what most people think.

It most times works to the speaker’s advantage as it can be used to emphasize what has just been said.

When you pause during your speech, it may seem like an eternity, but this isn’t always the case.

You can also take a break to drink water when if you feel your mouth getting dry.

Staying hydrated will make your thoughts clearer and help you focus better.

10. Reduce Stress

You most likely will feel the weight of your anxiety the second before you are to take the stage.

But you can calm your nerves down and reduce your stress by envisioning yourself doing great once you take the stage.

Use your imagination to see yourself succeeding at your presentation.

You can also build your confidence and reduce stress by trying belly breathing.

11. Focus on Familiar Faces

Before you get on stage, speak to some of the people sitting directly in front of the stage.

When you start your presentation, look for those familiar faces and focus on them.

Doing this would help you connect better with the audience and also help reduce your nervousness.

12. Keep the Audience Engaged – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

If you give a monologue speech, the entire duty of entertaining and educating the audience will lie solely on you.

Rather than this, make your presentation a two-way communication.

Involve your audience in the presentation.

This will help you feel more at ease and would also reduce boredom.

It will also give you more time to gather your thoughts and reorganize in case things go off-track.

13. Get Feedback and Work Towards Improving Yourself – How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Overcoming public speaking fears is a gradual process.

So, even when your speech was a success, you have to work towards getting better.

Your speech might have gone well, but if you are being truthful with yourself, it could have been better.

Therefore, always strive towards becoming better. 

You can do this by reviewing your performance and then figuring out what you could have done better.

After the speech, ask some members of the audience for feedback.

Let them tell you what they liked about your presentation and things they thought you could have done better.

Another way to review the speech is to watch a video or listen to an audio of the speech.

You may cringe when you watch or listen to yourself but it’s a necessary step to becoming a better public speaker.

Conclusion on How to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

Experience and being prepared are two key features that will help you overcome your public speaking fears.

When you prepare thoroughly, you would feel confident in yourself.

The fear of making a mistake or forgetting your next line will reduce significantly.

And, with each speech you give, you have the chance of working on yourself and getting better.

The more speeches you give, the more comfortable you get when speaking publicly.

Therefore, keep practicing and getting enough experience until you become a great speaker.

It may seem tough letting go of your fears, but always remind yourself that you can do it.