5 minute read.
You have a message to share, and you want to share it with an audience. You are sure the audience will really benefit from your message.
But you can’t share it because you are crippled with fear. Sound familiar? That’s because it IS familiar. This is extremely common and familiar with so many people.
People suffer from a crippling fear of public speaking all the time.
But never fear, I’ve compiled a top 7 list of ways you can overcome intense fear of public speaking, based on literature and research I’ve done, as well as from my own experiences.
Let’s take a look.
Tip #1: Figure out the root of your fear.
What are you really afraid of? Is it fear of judgment? Is it fear of not remembering what you want to say, or tripping over your words? It’s too easy and general to say “I’m afraid of public speaking.” Be more specific and get to the root of the problem. What is it about public speaking that terrifies you the most?
Dig deep and really think about this. Approach this from a scientific viewpoint. Then you can address the underlying root issue or issues and work from there. You’d be surprised at what you come up if you stop and really think about it.
Take an inventory. Make a list of specific things that scare you, and really investigate why you feel anxious or afraid. Then counteract them by making a corresponding list of ways you can address these fears. Nothing is going to get better until you have a plan to work on it.
Tip #2: Learn to breathe deeply and slowly.
Some of the greatest yoga teachers will tell you that deep breathing is the secret to reducing
stress and staying healthy, along with yoga exercises. But deep breathing is not enough. It must come from your diaphragm, not your chest.
Breathing from your chest area will result in shallow breaths and less oxygen intake. See this article for more detail (Jump to #5). Before you take the stage, stop and take deep breaths. Think “sigh of calmness”. And when you exhale, let it come out with a quiet “ahhh”. I feel better already just thinking about it.
Also be sure to take some time in a quiet place and focus about an hour or 2 before the presentation. Practice mindfulness and visualize everything going smoothly. Listen to soothing music or use visual imagery to keep you relaxed and focused.
Tip #3: Do some light exercise before you speak.
This reduces tension just like the breathing does. It also warms your body and muscles, and gets the blood flowing and circulating, which helps you concentrate and makes you sharp.
Contrary to popular belief, getting a little bit of physical activity before going on to speak will actually calm you and help you get rid of excess nervous energy. The best exercises are taking a short walk outside, doing some light stretches, or doing a few jumps or knee lifts in place.
Tip #4: Practice… a lot!
Practice in a few different ways. Before a speaking event, write out your script, and practice reading the script in your head. Then practice reading the script out loud. Finally, practice in front of a small group.
Doing this will help you feel more confident about what you’re going to say and how you’ll say it. It should sound natural and flowing, not robotic and rehearsed. Also, practice speaking in informal social situations (answering a question in class, striking up a conversation at a party, etc.). This will help you conquer social anxiety.
Tip #5: Get enough sleep, hydration, and nutrition.
It’s important to take good care of yourself and follow your morning rituals before a speaking event. Eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t drink coffee if you normally don’t drink coffee. But if you always have some in the morning and you know it will not affect you, only make it one cup and then stop.
Above all, make sure you are well rested, hydrated, and have enough proper nutrients in your system. It will help you feel less anxious, and keep your blood sugar in check.
Tip #6: Visit the auditorium, hall, or speaking venue ahead of time.
Know how large or small the room, the audience, equipment, time constraints, etc. Do you need a clock or stop watch? Do you need a podium for your laptop or notes? How will the audience be seated? In rows in a long room or surrounding you in a wide room?
Is someone going to introduce you or will you need to introduce yourself? Do you need a microphone to project your voice to the back of the room? Find out as many details as you can about the setup and be prepared.
Tip #7: Find a good mentor or coach.
Sometimes you don’t know what you are doing wrong until a coach or mentor points it out. It could be a good friend or family member, but they should have some knowledge or experience in public speaking.
You should get someone who wants to see you excel and succeed in your speaking. They will also help you brainstorm good topics, organize material effectively, and practice your speeches, as well offer helpful and constructive feedback.
By doing all these things, you can take loads of unnecessary pressure off yourself.
Very rarely does anyone give a completely perfect speech. Even the president can improve his speaking techniques. Your audience will understand if you make mistakes. Whatever you do, don’t apologize. Just keep moving through and continue the flow.
Keep making progress on every speech and learn from your mistakes. Remember, mistakes are okay. They are just stepping stones toward becoming an excellent public speaker. You got this!
As always, let me know in the comments section how you are doing on this. Please share your story. You may be helping someone else who reads it. Also share this article to your favorite social media app.