Do you want to know how to overcome the fear of public speaking?
Imagine this for a second.
You’re in front of a crowd and you’re just about to give THE speech of a lifetime.
As you try to gather as much courage as you can to start your speech, you feel your body gets heavier and your mind becomes a haze.
Even though you know people in the crowd are chatting with one another, the only thing you can hear is your heart, beating so fast that you think it would explode at any minute.
If this is you, help is here.
This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Read on to find out all you need to know.
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
If you’ve ever felt nervous or anxious about talking in front of a crowd, know that you’re not alone.
Almost everyone has experienced anxiety before giving a speech at least once in their lives.
While the nervous feeling quickly fades for some, for others, it can last for hours before and after the speech has been delivered.
So, what’s the real deal with speech anxiety and how can you manage it?
Before then, let’s consider a few things like;
What Is The Fear Of Public Speaking?
The fear of public speaking is also known as speech anxiety or glossophobia.
This is the fear of speaking in front of large crowds.
While it may not be the top phobia, it’s considered to be quite common, with around 75% of the general population admitting that they’ve experienced it.
The physical symptoms of glossophobia vary in different people.
However, the most common are:
- increased sweating
- stiffening and/or uncontrollable shaking of muscles
- increased blood pressure and heart rate etc.
It often elicits a fight or flight response.
This results in the person having tensed or quivering speech and making awkward pauses.
Why Are People Afraid Of Public Speaking?
To find a solution to this common problem, we first need to understand why people fear public speaking.
Here are the 3 factors that are worth looking into:
It All Starts In The Mind
The first factor is your own beliefs about yourself as a public speaker.
If you feel like you don’t have what it takes to communicate your ideas in front of a crowd, then you won’t be able to say what you want to say.
Most people get overthrown by limiting beliefs of themselves to the point that they let their negative view dictate who they are as a person.
Just because they don’t feel like they’re articulate enough to speak in public that one time, they use that as an excuse and don’t try again.
When you tell yourself things like;
- you’re not skilled to speak in front of a crowd
- or that you’re boring and no one would be interested to hear what you have to say
It doesn’t just ruin your self-esteem, it also kills any opportunity you may have to improve yourself.
Thinking that you can’t do something even before you start doing it is already enough to make you anxious.
This is why if you want to overcome your fears of public speaking, you need to shift your focus.
Instead of thinking of all the reasons why you can’t speak in front of a crowd, try thinking of all the reasons why you should.
Don’t rely on your perception of your abilities, but focus instead on the main purpose of your speech.
Lack Of Skills
Another factor that can contribute to your fear of public speaking is a lack of skills.
Most think of themselves as good public speakers.
However, some are terrified to try because they feel they’re just not cut out for it.
It does not matter how bad you think you are at public speaking, there are things that you can do to improve.
The ability to express your thoughts and ideas to a crowd is not solely based on talent.
Rather it’s having and developing the right skills.
If you ask the experts themselves, you’ll see that not all talented speakers were naturally born with the ability to command a room.
Most of them put in years of hard work to be able to give a speech in front of large crowds.
Once you realize that public speaking can be improved with daily effort, it will be easier for you to get over your fears.
Increasing your competence in this area is the most effective way to increase your confidence.
When you’re more confident, there will be no space for fear.
Also, having more confidence will automatically make you effective in public speaking.
However, to master public speaking, there are still other skills that you need to develop such as clear articulation and storytelling.
There are specific situations that would make anyone anxious like when you’re:
Speaking in front for the first time
Doing something for the first time is a very valid reason to feel the jitters.
If you’re taking the stage for the first time, it’s just natural to feel some degree of fear because you don’t know what to expect.
Being judged by someone else, whether explicitly or implicitly, is another reason to get anxious.
The fear stems from every person’s need to be liked and accepted.
When there’s the element of evaluation, you feel more nervous because, in your mind, you’re thinking, “what if he or she doesn’t like me?”
Trying to express new ideas
If you’re expressing ideas that are new to an audience, there’s the fear that the crowd may not be receptive to it.
There’s the worry that if you don’t say the right words, it will not only affect your credibility; your ideas will also be rejected.
And we all know how much rejection hurts.
Speaking to people who are in a whole different league
Standing in front of people who have a higher status than you, might be enough reason for some to run for the hills.
When you’re dealing with people who are in a whole different league than your own, it’s easy to feel like you’re not good enough to be in the same room as them, much more speak to them.
Engaging with a new audience
Even if you have some experience speaking in public, it can get nerve-wracking when you have to speak to a new audience.
Why? Because you don’t know what to expect.
You’re unsure of how the new audience will respond to what you have to say.
How Do You Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking?
Now that you have a better idea of why people might fear speaking in public, how do you overcome it?
Here’s a foolproof step-by-step guide to help you get over your fears so you can take the stage like a pro.
In Public Speaking Preparation Is Key; So Be Prepared
The key to your success is preparation.
The more you know about your material and how to deliver it, the fewer chances for mistakes.
Even if you forget a sentence, you’ll recover easily because you know and understand what you’re talking about.
You don’t need to memorize your speech word by word, but you need to know it.
If you’re passionate about your material, you’ve already won half the battle as people will be drawn to your passion for your speech.
For some people, the preparation may take weeks in advance, but know that all the effort is worth it.
Get Your Mind And Body In The Game
When the mind is anxious, it always shows in the body language.
Your muscles feel tense and more often than not, you’ll break a cold sweat, so the result is a stiff and forced speech delivery.
Not only will you feel uncomfortable on stage, but you’ll also make your audience feel uncomfortable.
This is why before you take the stage, you must get your mind and body in the game.
Do breathing exercises and light stretching to calm your nerves and loosen up your body.
Think of this as your warm-up before a big performance.
Even professional performers do their warm-ups before a show so that they look calm and collected on stage.
The more relaxed you are, the better the outcome of your speech.
Do Some Meditation
If you’re dealing with too much clutter in your mind, take a few minutes to do a quick meditation.
Meditation will not only calm your mind, but it will also help you focus on what’s important.
Meditating, even for 5 minutes before you give your speech, will make you feel calmer and help you deal with distractions.
Add in a few positive affirmations to give yourself a boost in confidence.
All you have to do is sit somewhere quiet for 5 minutes, take deep breaths, and let all the stress and nervousness drift away.
Work on your breathing until you get to a calm rhythm.
Set Your Sights On The Goal
As you work on making deep calm breaths, now is the perfect time to refocus on what’s at stake.
Instead of focusing on yourself and what you think is an inevitable failure, set your sights on the goal.
What are you trying to achieve with this speech?
Why are you speaking to the audience in the first place?
What makes all this effort worth it?
By answering one of these questions, you’ll be in a better position to contribute something positive and of value to your audience.
You want everyone to leave the room as better versions of themselves, including yourself.
Sell Your Material Not Yourself
If there’s one thing that you need to know about presenting yourself in front of an audience, it’s this;
People will focus more on your message if you downplay selling yourself.
While it’s true that you need to make a good impression by dressing smart and maintaining a confident tone, this message is not about you.
You don’t have to sell yourself and try too hard to engage your audience.
Just stick to the message, deliver it the best you can, and your audience will appreciate your efforts.
Even if you have a different idea of the outcome in your mind, as long as you were able to deliver your message clearly, you can still write it off as a success.
Practice, Practice And Practice Some More
Practice makes perfect.
Whether you’re delivering a speech in front of a large crowd or a few select people, you need to make sure that you practice as many times as you possibly can.
This way, you’ll see what areas you feel you can still improve on.
A great tip to making the most out of your practice sessions is to ask trusted people for feedback.
Instead of doing it in front of the mirror, try asking some family and friends to sit in for you like your audience.
You can also record yourself giving the speech and send it out to your trusted circle.
Treat their comments as opportunities to become a better speaker.
Don’t take it personally, especially since you’re asking them for a favor.
Even if you don’t like what you hear, think of it as their way of helping you to become better.
Just Be Yourself
Lastly, and this is one tip that will serve you well wherever you go: just be yourself.
Most people dread taking the stage because they fear judgment, or worse, being rejected.
While it’s never okay to allow your weaknesses to take you over, your vulnerability can help you seem like a more relatable and authentic speaker.
Being an authentic speaker would ensure your audience listens when you speak.
This is one great way to improve your communication skills.
Instead of channeling someone else when you take the stage, show off your true colors.
Don’t be afraid to be more spontaneous once you become more comfortable with your audience.
Be flexible and use humor to deal with any unpredictable situation that comes your way.
If you experience any technical difficulties, for example, find ways to poke fun at the situation.
Remember, nothing makes audiences more nervous than a nervous speaker.
When you’re frazzled or agitated in front of the crowd, the crowd can’t help but get that same feeling.
This could make it more difficult for you to win your audience over.
How Do You Get Better At Public Speaking Over Time?
We all know that overcoming your fear of public speaking isn’t going to happen overnight.
If you want to get better at speaking in front of a crowd, know that it could take months, maybe even years.
Although some people will never completely shake off the fears, there are plenty of ways to cope.
Here Are 3 Effective Ways To Help You Become A Better Public Speaker Over Time
Find More Opportunities To Speak
Don’t wait for opportunities to speak come to you.
Instead, find these opportunities, or better yet, create them for yourself.
Whether you’re trying to improve your skills or your response to fear, the more you speak, the more confident you’ll be at it.
Speaking in front of a crowd as much as you would help you improve your techniques.
It will also make you realize that public speaking is not as scary as it seems.
If you feel like your lack of skills is holding you back from speaking to a crowd, then you can always sign up for public speaking classes or groups like Toastmasters.
The great thing about attending classes is that there will be professionals to help you improve your presentation skills and stage presence.
You’ll have the chance to learn from experts who have been conquering the stage for years.
If there are no public speaking classes in your area, you can always try looking for one that you can attend online.
Still, think that these tips aren’t enough to help you combat your fear of public speaking?
The good news is there are plenty of options for extra help.
If these tips don’t help you overcome your fear of public speaking then you might want to consider seeking out professional intervention.
Some people can help you get to the root of your fears so that you can deal with them once and for all.
Don’t be afraid to consult with a therapist, especially if it’s preventing you from living a healthy and well-rounded life.
Why Does Public Speaking Matter?
Why put all this effort when you can easily avoid speaking in public anyway?
Public speaking is an important skill that will help you communicate effectively, expand your network, and foster a connection with the people who matter to you.
Public speaking is also an avenue to share your values and ideas.
Act on the tips above.
You will know how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Don’t be afraid to go out there, and seek public speaking opportunities to practice your new-found skills.
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