Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

 Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

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Marketing >> Marketing Principles >> Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of Public Speaking and overcoming it


Fear of public speaking is easily one of the most common and debilitating fears that there is.  Many people place fear of public speaking in the same category that they do life-threatening situations.  So if getting up in front of people is something that scares you silly, you arenít alone.  Fear of public speaking is rated the number one fear with death actually coming in at number four.

When you get up to speak, do you get a quiver in your voice?  Is your stomach in knots?  Start perspiring?  If so, you probably avoid any situation that would require you to speak in front of other people.  Yet talking to large numbers of people is also a way to sell yourself and your company to many people at the same time.

Public speakers can talk to more people in an hour than you can in an entire year or more.  Doesnít it make sense to work on getting over the fear and put your knowledge to work for you by running the numbers and getting the biggest bang for your buck?  Here are a few ideas that can help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

  1. Recognize that your audience wants you to do well.  They came to see you and to hear what you have to say.  Think of your audience as your friends and talk to them in the same way you would if you were conversing with a group of people that you know well and trust.  Try to stay away from note cards, and most certainly do not use a written out speech unless for the purposes of quoting something.  At most, keep a few note cards for words and facts and figures that you have to mention.

  2. SMILE!  By doing so, you actually affect a physical change in your body that helps you to relax.  You relax, and when your audience sees you smile and relax, so do they.  Of course seeing them relax also helps you to relax even more. 

  3. Take a few deep breaths and donít even consider failing.  You will do fine, but the more you think you might fail, the greater the fear, and the more the fear, the more you think about failing.  Are you getting the idea that there are some psychological cycles that are going on here?  Good, because thatís all most of the fear of public speaking is, cycles of fear and concern.  What the successful public speaker needs to do is to recognize his/her own cycles and interrupt them.  One of the greatest and most experienced public speakers is Billy Graham, popular evangelist.  Even in his later years, Mr. Graham said that he has to fight the jitters before coming out on stage.  If a speaker of his experience and who has spoken to billions gets nervous, expect that you will too.

  4. Even the most experienced public speakers practice their material.  Get used to the sound of your voice, know your material, and practice.  When you feel comfortable with what you are presenting, you will find that you can relax even more.

  5. Ask yourself what the audience is really here for.  You are not here to listen to them, they are here to listen to you.  Why?  Because you are the expert.  So if you are the expert, what are you worrying about presenting material that you are an expert on to people that are not experts? 

  6. Whatís the worst that could happen?  You arenít going to faint, fall down, or start to cackle like a chicken.  The worst that could happen is that you might stammer or lose your place.  So what?  This happens to experienced public speakers, but you donít even notice because they donít let such things rattle them.  The just make the correction and go on.  You will make mistakes.  Accept that fact and learn to recover without making things worse by drawing attention to it.

  7. Dress good, feel good, and you will do well.  If you feel like you look good and you take care of yourself, you will have greater self-confidence and this comes through to your audience.  Your body language and demeanor will express how you feel about yourself, and you will transfer this to your audience.

  8. Lead with a bit of self-deprecating humor or something to get their attention.  People draw affection from their audience when they poke just a bit of fun at themselves and show themselves to be human.

  9. Arrive early and greet people as they enter the room.  More than a few speakers do this and for good reason.  Most people find it easier to be personal and intimate when they are face to face, shaking hands and speaking one to one.  From the listeners perspective, they get to know you a bit better before you get up there and they make up their minds about you before you get up on stage.  Aside from putting the audience on your side early, you will then get up to the podium and see some familiar and smiling faces.

  10. Finally, a lesson learned from President Reaganís speech coach.  If you simply cannot get rid of the willies, drink about a half a glass of wine before going on stageÖ but no more.  This is not one of those tips that if a little is good, a lot is better.  A half glass of wine helps to take the edge off, it puts a touch of healthy color in your face, but it will not impair your judgment.  More than a half a glass can.  Even if you think you are doing fine, your audience may notice something isnít right or you might not be as reactive as you should be.

Marketing >> Marketing Principles >> Fear of Public Speaking





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