Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking
You start to shake a little bit. Your hands are a little clammy. There’s this weird hole in your stomach that feels like you haven’t eaten in days. You’re thinking it might not be too late to cancel. Except that you’re at the podium, in front of all these people. You can’t turn back now.
Public Speaking constantly ranks as one of people’s most common fears. The idea that you might make a mistake and be humiliated in front of a room of people who are staring at you is terrifying for more than 40% of the United States. Whether it’s to an auditorium of people, or just to a handful of coworkers, public speaking gets people queasy.
If you’re looking to overcome your fear of public speaking, try these steps.
In telling the story of how he overcame his fear of public speaking, Richard Branson says you must prepare. Take the time to find your own voice and inject your own personality into what you are going to say. Give yourself an outline and know the key points you want to make. Having a firm understanding of what you’ll be talking about will help you stay calm and on track.
Along with preparation comes practice. Give your speech in the mirror. Give your speech to your dog. Give your speech to a friend. Give your speech to a couple friends. Start small and work your way up to larger crowds. Practice makes the words come easier. It’ll help you remember what comes next. It’ll give you more confidence as well.
Talk Slowly, Breathe Deeply
Taking a couple deep breaths automatically relaxes you. Take a couple before you get up to speak. If you are using cue cards or a paper, write “Talk Slowly” at the top. When you get nervous, you’ll start talking quicker without realizing it. That little reminder can keep you calm and help you realize it’s okay to give yourself small moments.
Pick someone out in the crowd
Generally, the fear that comes with public speaking has to do with the public part. We have no trouble talking with friends at a party or over coffee, but expand that number and have them all staring at you, and all of a sudden our mouth dries out. One thing that works for some is to pick someone in the crowd and focus on them. This will help you feel like you are delivering your speech to an audience of one.
Remember It’s Normal
Finally, remember that getting nervous about public speaking is normal. As we mentioned earlier, nearly 40% of people say they have a fear of public speaking. You’re not alone in this.