Fear of Public Speaking: Practical Tips to Overcome it
Are you having the fear of public speaking?
If yes, it’s normal that you do.
Because, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the fear of public speaking is inherent in about 73% of the population.
Do you THINK you are uniquely not good enough for public speaking or the ability to speak in public is not in you?
Perhaps it’s not you, it’s your body; it betrays you.
Anytime a situation presents itself for you to speak in public, your body just get unexplainably anxious.
This leads to ANXIETY then the fear of public speaking creeps in.
One or more of these possibilities could be true about you. But not to worry, the greatest public speakers across history at some points were afraid of public speaking.
Nobody was born a public speaker, public speaking is a skill and like every other skill it is acquired.
I believe you have the potential to become a great public speaker, and perhaps, your fear of public speaking is the only thing stopping you from fulfilling you potential.
Stay with me through this article and I am going to show you how to deal with that fear and unleash the great speaker in you.
ARE YOU READY? Of course you are.
LET’S DO THIS!
#1. Believe in Yourself
“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable more than you imagine” Roy T. Bennett
A vital key to overcome the fear of public speaking is confidence and there is no confidence like self-confidence.
It is the simple ‘yes I can’ and ‘yes we can’ that differentiate the audacious from the chickened
Are you a chicken, afraid of public speaking because of self-doubt?
Or are you audacious enough to confront you fear and say to it “I believe I can, I know I can and yes, I can speak in public”
#2. Turn your fear to excitement
When we are afraid or excited, our heartbeat increases and there is always a strange feel in our stomach.
The feeling we have when we are afraid or excited are the same. The difference is how we interpret the situation and the feeling.
You need to interpret what you think is fear as excitement.
Here is an article that shows exactly how.
#3. Best Advice in the World: Be Yourself
I love this tip, because it played a pivotal role in helping me overcome my fear of public speaking.
Somebody once told me that;
“Being number one is good because you are the best, but being yourself is better because you are the only one”.
Think of JFK, King Jnr or Obama, they are all great public speakers. But evidently, their public speaking style and persona differ.
There is no one way to public speaking but there is your way to public speaking.
Quit trying to be somebody or setting standards for yourself based on some other speaker’s style or skill.
Start being yourself, because you are unique; never is and never will be another you.
#4. No Shortcuts: Avoid Tricks
A lot of us (people) love shortcuts; an easy way out. Fearful speakers are not exempted, they too want an easy out.
According to Dr. David the founder of AnxietyCoach.com, most fearful public speakers he had worked with, most often than not, have some tricks in their trick bag.
Tricks that they use in an effort to control their fear of public speaking.
Some of which are
- Read the speech
- Try not to look at the audience
- Rush through the speech
- Cough, pretending to have a sore throat
- Keep swallowing, to make sure they can drink fluids etc.
All these tricks don’t solve or erase the problem (fear of public speaking), it rather create more problem.
When you employ tricks, the fear is still there and though you are speaking, you won’t be communicating.
What good is the trick or the speech itself, if you are not communicating?
Avoid the Tricks.
#5. The Most Difficult: Be Honest
Being honest is quite simple and yet difficult.
But if you must overcome your fear of public speaking, then you have to be honest to yourself, with your speech and to your audience.
I have a friend who wants to ask a lady out. The lady happens to be from a class above his.
So, he was trying so hard to make the lady think they are of the same class. All this was in an effort to avoid being turned down.
Unfortunately, prior to his meeting her, he was engulfed with fear. His thoughts “hope I won’t embarrass myself before this lady or what will she even think of me?”
Then, he came to me for counsel, and I told him what I am telling you now; BE HONEST.
You know yourself, your skill and intellectual level, don’t try to be what you are not or lie in front of your audience. Stay true and BE HONEST.
#6. Nobody is Mistake-proof: Not Even Your Speaking Model
We all make mistakes, even the greatest public speakers make mistakes.
To be afraid of public speaking because you don’t want to make mistakes while speaking is itself a big mistake.
Am not afraid to make mistakes, because those mistakes are part of who I am: Human.
I can make mistakes, your speaking model can make mistakes and you too can make mistakes.
You get to become a better public speaker when you learn from your mistakes. But there would be no mistakes to learn from when you are afraid to even speak.
#7. Simply but Not: Offer Value
If I am in your audience, I would not necessary be disappointed if you offer me value and look anxious doing so.
But most definitely I would be frustrated if you speak in confidence and offer absolute nonsense.
Therefore, whatever you say and anyhow you say it offer value.
Instead of concentrating energy on how confident your audience think you are, channel that energy to how valuable what you are saying is.
#8. Common Grounds: Connect with your Audience
Look at Obama’s 2004 keynote speech, it was one of those speech where the speaker and her audience rode on common grounds, there was a great degree of connection.
“There is no white America, there is no black America or Latino America; there is the United States of America” Barack Obama (2004)
Obama didn’t concentrate on the many things that could probably differentiate him from the audience, he concentrated on the things he had in common with his audience and that is the making of a great speech.
Connecting with the audience by finding common ground is a big blow to fear, it makes your audience who are probably strangers feel like people you’ve known for years.
By so doing, public speaking becomes a normal conversation between best friends who have a lot of common grounds.
And I bet you wouldn’t be afraid speaking to your best friends.
Therefore, as you prepare and deliver any public speech, don’t just find common grounds with your audience, speak on the platform of common grounds.
#9. Practice: Be Prepared, even for the Worst
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation” Arthur Ashe
Practice every inch of your speech until if flows naturally in your veins and arteries; till it becomes a part of you.
Prepare yourself for the conditions or situations you are probably afraid of.
Including preparing yourself for the worst possible scenario.
Organize a mock speech consisting of volunteers as many as you could reach out to. And Practice before them.
For in practice you gain confidence and in confidence fear is overcame.
Check out this article on how to prepare for an outstanding speech.
#10. Acquire the Basic Public Speaking Skills
You shouldn’t even be seeking to know how to overcome your fear of public speaking if you don’t have the basic skills of public speaking.
Picture an unskilled man saying “I am afraid to make electrical connections”. Yes, of course, he should be afraid except he is skilled.
Nobody is born a public speaker, public speaking is a skill and like every other skill it is acquired.
Acquiring the basic skills of public speaking is a fundamental basis for overcoming your fear of public speaking.
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Public speaking can take you places, change the tides in your favor and bring your dreams to pass.
The fear of it crushes those opportunities and dreams.
Of course, there is more to public speaking than meet the eyes but the journey of a thousand mile begins with one step.
Employ these tips; take one more step today.