Fear of public speaking is the commonest of all phobias and emerges as one of the biggest weaknesses of otherwise competent and confident people. Majority of people encounter this fear at some point in their lives until they get extremely confident in speaking. To some, fear of public speaking makes more anxious than fear of death. Public speaking fear can manifest in different forms from slight nervousness to quavering voice to shaking hands and legs and ‘panic attack’ in its extreme forms. People with this fear protect themselves either by avoiding public speech or struggling with speech anxiety.
Have you ever wondered what impact can your fear of public speaking have on your personal and professional life? Professional life usually demands to deliver business presentations, speaking at a business or networking conference, pitching your product at a sales call, etc. Fear of public speaking can emerge as a big hurdle in your professional life as you will fail in selling your company’s products/ services to customers, conveying your business ideas or addressing a business conference with this fear. Fear of public speaking also impacts your personality as this can make you look weak and emerge as one of your weak personality traits.
It is noteworthy that you can overcome your public speaking fear with persistent practice and a little smart work. In this post, we will highlight some of the best ways that serve effectively in overcoming public speaking fear.
Effective Ways/Techniques to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
We will now go through the comprehensive list of techniques with which you can overcome your fear of public speaking. Here are some of the public speaking tips:
1Have ‘in-depth’ knowledge of your topic
The first step is to have proper knowledge and understanding of the subject you will address in the presentation. Failing to gain complete knowledge about the subject will add to your anxiety and nervousness. Greater the knowledge you have about the topic, lesser will be the chances of your making mistakes or going off track. Take some time out analyzing the questions the audience may frame and prepare your responses to them.
You must organize all the materials and thoughts you seek to deliver in your speech. Keeping your speech materials and information you seek to present ready will reduce your nervousness and anxiety to a great extent and will help you focus on preparation. Prepare a detailed outline and split it into key points and sub-points that you need to memorize. You can also visit the presentation venue to review the available equipment before the presentation in case it is possible.
3Eliminate Fear of Rejection
You need to remind yourself that the audience also wants you to succeed and has not come to make your fun or to see a boring or bad presentation. You need to think that audience has come with some expectations from you and you must give your best to stand up to their expectations. These thoughts will help you eliminate your fear of rejection.
4Use the Opportunity to prove yourself
Professional growth requires showcasing your talent consistently and putting your level best to prompt appreciation and promotion from your boss. You must think to use the public speech as an opportunity to prove yourself and showcase your skills to your employer. Remind yourself that you just have one chance and you need to use it completely in your favor to prompt professional growth.
5Practice Speaking Frequently
Practice is the only means of getting over your public speaking fears and you need to rehearse as much as possible to get perfect. Read your script a few times and try to practice by speaking your script again and again. Rehearsing should be at an individual level first. Keep reciting your script repeatedly line by line until you memorize it completely.
6Practice in Front of Mirror
Rehearsing in front of the mirror should be the next level after memorizing your script. Rehearsing in front of the mirror provides you the feeling that you are directly speaking to someone. A big advantage of rehearsing in front of a mirror is that it helps you track your facial expressions, gestures, body movements, posture and speaking style/tone. Rehearsing in front of the mirror is the best way to improve upon your gestures, speaking pitch, facial expressions, posture and body movements as you get instant feedback through it. Rehearse in front of the mirror repeatedly till the point you get perfect in all aspects.
7Watch Speeches Online
Watching speeches online is one of the best ways to learn and develop your skills. Watching online videos helps when a person is a novice and does not have proper speaking skills or does not have knowledge about utilizing gestures and body movements. Make it a point to watch videos of famous celebrities and analyze how they engage with the audience, what gestures, facial expressions and body movements they use, how they adjust their pitch, etc.
8Rehearse in front of small groups
When you are new to the public speaking world, you need to start with small groups of audience. After rehearsing in front of a mirror and getting a grip over your speech, you must deliver the presentation in front of a small audience that may consist of unknown persons, friends, and relatives. This activity will help improve your confidence level and an audience can also provide you feedback and highlight your strong and weak points they observed during your speech. You can then use their feedback to make improvements in your speech and overcome the fear of public speaking.
9Ask someone to record your rehearsal videos
Videos serve as great methods of improvement and skill development. You can ask your friend or relative to record videos of your rehearsals. You can then use your rehearsal videos as a tool to analyze the areas where you require improvement. Videos will familiarize you with your pitch, how you use gestures, your body language, posture and facial expressions. You can go through the video and identify the areas that require improvement. Repeat this exercise of getting your videos recorded a few times and use it consistently to improve your speaking skills.
10Memorize your Slide Sequence
Remembering the sequence in which information has been presented on your slides so that you can announce the title of an upcoming slide makes you look poised and more confident. Forgetting what the next slide is all about and turning to look at the side for announcing its title erodes your credibility much faster. Therefore, make it a point to memorize the titles that every slide contains.
11Stop Visualizing your presentation as a performance
The more you think of the presentation as a performance, the more nervous and fearful you get. It is always beneficial to convince yourself and consider every presentation as a series of conversations between you and the audience. Treat every presentation as an open discussion and this will help shift your focus from the fear-inducing thought that you are expected to perform.
12Visualize your success
A technique to overcome your public speaking fear is to imagine that your presentation will go well and you will receive appreciation and applause from the audience. Filling your mind with positive thoughts will help reduce nervousness and anxiety before your speech.
13Take some deep breaths
Taking deep breaths a few minutes before the final presentation will help you calm your body and mind. Deep breathing prior to the presentation will relax your nerves and body and strengthens your voice. Therefore, make it a point to take some slow or deep breaths prior to landing the podium.
14Learn how to engage with the audience
Delivering the presentation in a monologue manner will put the entire responsibility of engaging and entertaining the audience on you. Make sure to make the presentation two-sided by asking questions, seeking suggestions, using some laughter jokes, etc. A two-sided conversation always helps to keep the audience engaged and reduces boredom and nervousness as well. Interacting with the audience will help you overcome your fears and will also get you time on re-organizing in case you think you are going off the track.
15Don’t mind pausing
Pausing is the best strategy to use when you feel blank or you feel you are going off the track or feel anxious and nervous. Pausing will help you regain composure and help you get on the track. Don’t mind taking a few seconds pause whenever you feel anxious or lose track of what you are communicating.
16Stop Overthinking/Don’t let negative thoughts haunt your mind
Overthinking before as well as during your speech can prove really harmful to you. Avoid getting negative thoughts that people will mock at you or you will freeze or you will forget your content during the presentation or you will start shaking on reaching the podium or your presentation will be complete failure. Getting such thoughts in mind will shift your focus from the actual presentation content and you will become more nervous and conscious. It is better not to think about the audience’s reactions or your performance during the speech. Instead, focus on learning and developing your presentation skills.
17Avoid Speaking ‘Too Fast’
Speaking at a very fast pace during the presentation will make you more nervous and anxious. A pace ‘too fast’ makes it difficult for the audience to understand your idea and what you wish to convey through your speech. Make it a point to speak at a normal pace during the presentation that will help you maintain your composure.
18Don’t let audience’s expressions impact your speech
No matter how good you present, you are bound to get mixed reactions from the audience. Audience reactions are different when we deliver a speech. You might get a nod or smile from some people while others might give blank stares, some might seem bored and tired, some might seem distracted while some might give awkward reactions. You must understand that some people are difficult to please and convince despite good speech delivery. Make sure not to pay much attention to audience’s reactions during the speech – no matter how bad they are. You must not get impacted by any of the audience’s reactions and continue your speech confidently and calmly.
19Nail the beginning and the ending
Beginning and ending lines of your speech is the most crucial parts of your speech. Opening lines set the tone for the speech and closing lines showcase your expectations from the audience or conclusion of your speech. Therefore, having a perfect control over your beginning and ending sections of speech will help you stay more confident and poised during a speech. Try to think some creative and out of the box opening and closing lines to grab audience’s attention. Rehearse the beginning and closing lines repeatedly till you nail them completely. Make sure to open the speech in an enthusiastic tone to grab audience’s interest and keep them hooked on your speech. Ending lines must highlight a call to action you expect from the audiences.
20Just be yourself
You must portray what you really are and never try to enact someone else’s style. An audience can immediately sense that you are acting and trying to copy someone’s style. Make it a point to develop your own style and never try to imitate others.
We are sure that going through this blog will definitely teach you some best techniques that will help you overcome your fear of public speaking.