It is very common for people to have a fear of speaking in public. This fear is mostly caused by anxiety. People with this phobia tend to run away from speaking in public. If you fall into this category, you don’t have to worry. Thankfully, you can learn how to overcome the public speaking phobia.
Some of the signs of this phobia are sweaty palms, a knot in the stomach, and a racing heartbeat.
When these happen to you, it means you have a phobia of speaking in public.
At one point in your life, especially as a professional, you will have to speak publicly.
It might be in a small setup or a large gathering.
Regardless of the setting, public speaking is something you will have to do.
Hence, you need to muster up the courage and defeat the phobia that hinders you from expressing yourself.
Therefore, we will show you how to do this in this detailed discussion.
What Are the Effects of Fear on Speech?
Being anxious during a speech reduces the quality and effectiveness of the speech.
You may end up not giving the right message because your voice gets unstable and the possibility of the audience hearing what you are saying becomes low.
Sometimes, our speech is affected in the following ways:
When you are afraid to speak in front of people, it makes you talk very fast because you want to be done with the speech.
Talking quickly can lead to you missing out on some points, making it difficult for the audience to hear or even understand you.
The audience will also not enjoy your session with them.
Because most speakers don’t carry their audience along for fear of having eye contact, their focus is on the floor or the slide.
It will also stop you from breathing well; you will not know when you hold your breath because of the phobia associated with speaking in public.
This can cause you to suffocate and break down during the speech.
Common problems with talking fast are:
- Sounding nervous to your audience
- Lack of excitement from you and your voice will be flat during the speech.
- There will be a lack of air in your lungs.
Making Efforts to Hide Your Phobia
Speakers with a phobia of speaking in public try to hide their fear during their presentation.
The effort used in hiding their fear makes it more obvious to the audience that they are scared.
The effect is that you will feel you did not do well during the speech, even if you did well and the audience understood you.
Avoiding Eye Contact and Ignoring your Audience
Most speakers with this challenge find it hard to have eye contact with their audience.
As a result, they end up ignoring their audience.
One critical aspect of maintaining eye contact with your audience is seeing their reactions; without eye contact, you will not know how they reacted during the speech.
Avoiding eye contact will make you concentrate on negative thoughts because you feel you are not giving out your best.
Reasons for Public Speaking Phobia
Why do some of us have this phobia?
Knowing the causes of this phobia is important as it will help us to understand how to handle it.
Some of the reasons are:
- Facing a large crowd who will constantly be staring at you.
- Standing alone.
- Having to stand in an open place with nowhere to hide.
How to Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Prepare Properly and Practice Loudly – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Practice is a good way to handle public speaking phobia.
When you extensively practice your speech, you will be ready to answer any question directed at you.
Sometimes, being unable to answer questions after a presentation can cause a public speaking phobia.
Hence, you must practice first.
Remember that without practice, it is impossible to stand in front of a crowd.
You can jot down points when practicing, but you should not focus totally on the note when it is time for the speech.
Another aspect of practicing is reading aloud.
Assume you have a large crowd staring at you when you are doing this.
Use these methods to practice:
- Practice in front of friends, family, or colleagues.
- Give a speech at any video conference.
- Practice using a mirror.
Be Organized – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
When you have a speech to present, endeavor to organize your thoughts.
Organizing your thoughts helps you relax and feel more comfortable to give your speech without having fears of what to say and what not to say.
Gathering your thought reduces anxiety and helps you get focused.
Don’t Talk Too Fast – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Talking too fast will not allow you to breathe well.
Your talking should give you the chance to catch your breath and breathe properly.
Your audience on the other hand will not pick out everything you are saying when you talk too fast.
When this happens the purpose of your speech may not be achieved.
Relax, speak slowly and get your message across effectively.
Use the Mirror – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Looking at the mirror while practicing a speech makes it feel that you are talking to someone.
When you are using the mirror ensure you look out for movement of the body, gestures, and facial expressions.
When you practice with a mirror, ask yourself if your appearance is welcoming.
Using the mirror will help you correct some of the above expressions if they are wrong.
Work on Your Breathing
Working on your breath gives your voice a relaxed tone.
Calmly breathe and get on a rhythm because it will reduce stress.
It will also help you to speak clearly so that your audience can understand you better.
Disregard Rejection – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Disregard any fear that is associated with being rejected during your speech.
Going on stage with this feeling will increase anxiety and will hinder the flow of your speech.
Have it in mind that you will be accepted during your speech.
Remember this, the audience came there to hear you out, not to reject you.
Don’t Forget Your Reason for Being There
Try not to forget the reason you are standing on the stage to speak.
Possibly, you are there because people want to learn from you or because someone asked you to speak because of what you are capable of giving out.
The reason you are there should not be forgotten, so you have to relax and concentrate on how to impact those in attendance.
Forget about your fear and connect with the audience.
Speak On a Topic That You Like
Sometimes, speaking on a topic that you like helps to drive away anxiety or fear.
This is because you know about the subject and you also enjoy talking about it.
Some of this may be the reason you like the topic:
- You can talk about it freely from your heart.
- The subject has impacted you.
- You have the belief that others can learn or benefit from it.
- You like to share the topic.
Speaking about what you love gives you more confidence to share it with others.
Don’t Be Too Worried About Your Audience’s Reactions
People’s reactions will be different, no matter how hard you try to give your best during a speech.
Most times, their reactions are not directed at you.
It could be that they are tired or bored or have another thing on their minds.
What you need to do is, look out for reactions that will give you more confidence to give your speech.
Worrying too much will make you nervous and affect your speech.
Determine To Overcome Your Fear
Have the determination to overcome any form of phobia when public speaking is involved.
A wrong mindset is sometimes the reason for having this phobia.
Decide to go through any necessary practice to build yourself in speaking publicly without fear.
With constant practice, determination, and the right mindset, you can achieve your goals.
The better you get into public speaking, the better you will breakthrough into business because you can speak to anyone or a group of people to grow your business network.
Know Your Audience – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Knowing your audience will help you understand how to start your speech, the language to use, how long your speech should last, etc.
You can get to know your audience through this medium:
- Asking questions from your audience before you begin your speech, this is after exchanging greetings.
- Know the size of the audience that will be in attendance.
- Find out about them through their social media handles if it is possible.
Understanding your audience gives you the confidence to speak and answer any questions that may be asked after the speech.
Knowing your audience can also make you more comfortable speaking to them without having any phobia.
Prepare For Possible Questions
One of the reasons people are afraid to speak in public is because of the questions that may be asked after the presentation.
Sometimes the question takes them unaware and becomes so embarrassing if those questions are not properly answered.
To avoid this, carefully reflect on possible questions that can come up.
Prepare answers to these questions and add them to your slide.
Make Use of PowerPoint – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
PowerPoint can be a helpful tool when you are facing a crowd.
When your presentation is on PowerPoint, it will relax you a bit because your audience will not only focus on you but the PowerPoint.
They will be engaged in trying to jot down the point from your presentation.
However, try to stay focused on your audience, intermittently looking through your slides.
Join a Public Speaking Group
A public speaking coach can help you overcome a public speaking phobia.
Find a group that tutors people on public speaking.
Learn from your tutor how to overcome the public speaking phobia.
With the group, you will practice and get better as time permits.
Have a Record of Your Voice – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
You should have a record of your voice on a video camera or your phone.
Listen to it and study it from the beginning to the end.
Try to correct any mistake that is there and work on getting better at speaking in public.
Although some people don’t like listening to their voice on record, you should try to get familiar with your voice and your speaking style.
Read More about Public Speaking
Reading about public speaking is another way to get over the public speaking phobia.
Read on how others overcame their phobia for public speaking, use their experience, and overcome yours.
Other’s experience can help sharpen the way you view public speaking and also help you in overcoming the phobia.
Meditate Before Your Speech
A negative thought can be cleared from your head when you take out time to meditate.
Take out five to ten minutes to meditate on the subject or topic before going to speak in public.
Meditation is very important in calming and relaxing your mind.
Don’t Depend Totally On Technology
It is not advisable to depend totally on the technology you want to use for your presentation.
It will be so embarrassing to forget a line of your work, and you decide to check it on your phone or video, and there is no response.
When this happens, you will get more nervous, and your fear will increase.
Things like the ones about to be mentioned can get wrong during your presentation:
- You may have issues while connecting your laptop to the projector
- The live demo can fail.
- Videos may lose their sound or may not play at all.
This can be avoided by having a backup plan: have notes.
Get ready to explain without the help of technology.
Be fully prepared to avoid this from happening.
Pause and Breathe – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
We cannot overemphasize this, when you start getting nervous, take a break and breathe in.
You should do this shallowly and swiftly.
This is a way of letting the audience know that you are not overconfident.
Taking a deep breath shows that you are in control and you know what you are doing.
Before going on stage:
- Take slow breaths at intervals.
- Repeat this.
- When you are on stage, take a breath after making a point.
But this break should not exceed 3 or 5 seconds to avoid the audience from thinking otherwise.
Use a Script but Do Not Memorize
Forgetting what to say is what causes public speaking phobia for some people.
Because when they forget, they start to panic, and this increases their nervousness.
This is why it is okay to have a script where you have points jotted down.
But remember that having a script can make you read from it or memorize it, and you may break the eye contact you had with your audience.
The problem with memorizing is that if you forget a line, you can start panicking and you will forget what to say next.
The best thing to do is to outline your topic into a series of points; in this way, your speech will look real and not rehearsed.
With this, you can speak on your topic from the heart and explain it extensively to your audience.
Methods of moving from your point to a speech are:
First of all, make outlines of the topic; get all the points you have to talk about.
Secondly, write it out in a conversational way.
Thirdly, read it out loud and make all the corrections you need to.
After that, rehearse and start using less of the written down outline and add phrases and keywords that are important on a cue card or your laptop.
Lastly, start practicing the topic the way you are to present it during the presentation.
Cue cards and laptops can be used during the speech instead of using your script all through the presentation.
Emphasize the Start and End Of Your Speech
The beginning of your speech sets the tone, while the conclusion is the take-home of the audience.
The start of your speech gives you the chance to get your audience’s attention and stop them from being carried away by other things.
You have to use this chance wisely by starting with a statement that will grab their attention; you can also use quotes.
The end of the speech is time to get their attention again, and in most cases, they may remember the points from here.
So getting it right here is very important.
Don’t just leave the start and end of your speech to chance; instead, practice it, write it out.
Keep practicing it till you get used to what you will say.
Be Proud of Your Achievements – How To Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
You have to be proud of your success and achievement.
After a speech, commend yourself for a job well done, you are the only one that can do this better.
This is because you have overcome your fears.
Improve Your Next Presentation
You can watch videos to make your next presentation better.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Did you do well in your last speech?
- Is there anything you could have done to make it better?
- How was your audience’s reaction?
- How long were you able to carry your audience along during the last presentation?
When these questions are properly answered, you will know where and how to work on yourself to overcome a public speaking phobia.
Conclusion on How to Overcome Public Speaking Phobia
Hopefully, these tips have been of great benefit to you.
We believe that your public speaking phobia will be eliminated when you put these tips into action.
As stated earlier, with determination and the right mindset, you will stand among so many people to speak out your thoughts without fear of anything.
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