The fear of public speaking is a common one and can vary from slight nervousness to paralysing panic.
It may lead people to avoid such situations or suffer through them with a shaky voice. But with persistence and preparation, this fear can be overcome.
Mining our collective years of experience as accomplished public speakers, The Speakers’ Gym team have put together these hints and tips to help anyone who might be suffering from stage fright.
Navigate our guide on overcoming the fear of public speaking
- What are the signs of speech anxiety?
- 11 steps to overcoming your fear of public speaking
- Speech anxiety faqs
- Professional help for public speaking anxiety
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What are the signs of speech anxiety?
Let’s start with the symptoms.
Speech anxiety is when a speaker feels nervous before or during a presentation. It can lead to;
- sweating palms
- a shaky voice
- a dry throat
- difficulty breathing
- memory loss
It’s different for everyone, so it’s hard to predict what symptoms you may experience.
Follow These Steps To Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking
Let’s go through our top tips to help you conquer the fear of public speaking.
1. Exercise before you speak
Planning and organisation can go a long way in reducing public speaking anxiety.
Before your presentation, take the time to carefully plan out your content and any necessary visual aids. This will help you feel more in control and less nervous. You can also create an outline on a small card to keep you on track during your speech. If possible, visit the speaking venue ahead of time to familiarise yourself with the equipment and surroundings.
2. Choose a topic you’re passionate about
When you speak about something you truly care about, it becomes easier to capture the attention of your audience and get them invested in the topic. So, if you’re preparing to give a speech, make sure to choose a topic that ignites your passion.
It’s completely normal to feel nervous when speaking in public.
But the good news is, you can take steps to manage those nerves and improve your performance. Practicing your presentation several times is one way to help you feel more confident. Try practicing in front of people you’re comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
4. Record yourself and learn
Have you ever wondered how top athletes improve their game?
They watch recordings of their performances to identify areas for growth. You can apply the same technique to conquer your fear of public speaking. Just use your phone to record yourself giving your speech from start to finish, and if you make mistakes or forget something, keep recording. Then, watch the recording and take note of ways to improve. Some people find it uncomfortable to hear their own voice, but with practice, you’ll get used to it and improve your speaking style.
5. Challenge specific worries
We’ll let you into a little secret: catastrophising and feeling like the worst-case scenario is always going to happen when you speak publicly is completely normal.
To overcome your fear of public speaking, try listing out your specific worries. Then, challenge them head-on by looking at the facts. What is the likelihood of each worry actually happening? Are there any alternative outcomes that are more probable? By facing your fears with logic and reason, you can reduce their hold on you and gain the confidence you need to succeed.
6. Visualise your success
Let’s imagine for a moment that your presentation will go amazingly well!
Sometimes, shifting your mindset to positive thoughts can help decrease negative feelings about your social performance and relieve some of the anxiety you might be feeling.
7. Do some deep breathing
Taking a few deep breaths can do wonders for calming your nerves.
Before you start your speech and even during your presentation, try taking two or more slow, deep breaths to help you relax.
8. Focus on your material, not on your audience
Don’t worry too much about appearing nervous in front of your audience.
What matters most is the information you’re presenting. Remember, people are more interested in what you have to say than how you say it. And if they do notice your nervousness, many will be rooting for you and hoping for your success.
9. Don’t fear a moment of silence
It might feel like time has stopped when your mind goes blank or you start to feel anxious during your presentation, but in reality, it’s only been a few seconds. Don’t worry, your audience won’t mind a brief pause as you collect your thoughts. Take a few deep breaths, and you’ll be back on track in no time!
10. Drink water and have it available when you speak
Staying hydrated is important when you’re speaking in public. Keep a glass of water nearby while you speak, and consider adding some lemon for extra throat lubrication. Just be sure to avoid sugary drinks, which can dry out your mouth and make speaking more difficult. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mind and body sharp, especially if you’ve exercised beforehand
11. Recognise your success
After your speech or presentation, take a moment to congratulate yourself for a job well done. Even if everything wasn’t perfect, chances are high that your audience still enjoyed and appreciated your effort. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Reflect on any specific worries you had beforehand and see if they actually occurred. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Look at any mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve your skills for next time.
Fear of Public Speaking FAQs
Get a deeper understanding on what causes your fear of public speaking
What causes my fear of public speaking?
Some people develop a fear of public speaking due to a mix of genetic predispositions and environmental, biological, and psychological factors. This fear can stem from a deep-seated fear of embarrassment or rejection.
How do I stop my voice from shaking when nervous?
If you struggle with a shaky or cracking voice while speaking in public, don’t worry, there are simple techniques you can use to gain control. First, slow down your speaking rate and focus on your breathing. Choose someone in the audience who makes you feel comfortable and speak directly to them. Take intentional pauses to inhale and lower the pitch of your voice. With practice, you can overcome this obstacle and speak with more confidence.
Does fear of public speaking ever go away?
If you’re someone who struggles with fear when it comes to public speaking, there’s hope for you yet! The truth is, you don’t have to completely conquer your fear in order to become an effective public speaker. The goal is simply to have less fear, and to be able to speak confidently in spite of it. Think of it as being “fear-less” rather than completely fearless.
Can I get professional help to beat my fear of public speaking?
If practicing and using tips doesn’t seem to alleviate your fear of public speaking, then The Speakers’ Gym can help.
Our executive public speaking courses are designed to tackle the problem at hand, conquer it, and transform you into a confident and powerful orator.
The learning from our expert public speaking coach will permeate into every aspect of your life, both personal and professional. You’ll find that you complete tasks more efficiently, you are more inclined to put forward suggestions and ideas, and people take more notice of what you say. To say that this is a life-changing experience is no overstatement. Did you know, we also run a transformative leadership training course?
To discover more about this revolutionary course, speak to our team today.Public speaking training Call a public speaking coach
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