public speaking

10 Ways To Conquer Fear of Public Speaking

The most common phobia people have is the “Fear of public speaking”. Some people dread public speaking even more than death. Most of us live with this fear throughout our lives. Being an underrated skill we fail to get proper guidance to overcome our stage fright. As schools and colleges do not provide any training on public speaking, most of us lack the confidence to speak in public when we reach adulthood. Public speaking is necessary for each one of us irrespective of our age or profession. If you are wondering how public speaking can help you in your life, then let me list out some of its benefits–

As public speaking boosts your confidence levels there are more chances of you succeeding at job interviews

You will be more comfortable working in a team and giving effective presentations and seminars in the workplace. This improves your professional life and your relationship with your colleagues.

As a confident speaker you will be comfortable breaking the ice and starting conversations with strangers. This expands your social circle and improves your personal life.

If you are passionate about public speaking then you can also consider being a professional speaker. There are many people out there who make a living out of speaking or use it as a source of additional income.

With all these and many more rewards that it offers don’t you feel it is worth conquering your fear of public speaking? Let us look into some ways to overcome our fear of public speaking.

1. Take the Plunge

The only way you can get over your fear of public speaking is by going ahead and speaking. It might sound counter intuitive but this is true. The longer we wait to do whatever it is that is causing the fear, the more intense our fear would become. So go ahead and give that speech or presentation you have been pondering over for such a long time. Enroll yourself in public speaking groups or organizations like toastmasters club where you get to constantly challenge yourself and move out of your comfort zone. (Check the Toastmasters International website -  http://www.toastmasters.org/ to know more about this organization and to find a club near your area)

2. Mind matters

Dr. Robert Schuller once said “You are what you think about all day long”. This statement is true when it comes to public speaking. We all have this preconceived notion about the things we can do and the things we cannot do. I have heard some people say “Oh…I am such a terrible speaker” When I ask them how many speeches they have given so far, they would say “ Well… none” How can you assume that you are not good at something even before trying it?

Change these self -sabotaging beliefs you are holding in your mind. You can become a good speaker only when you believe you can.

3. Preparation pays

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – Thomas Edison

I remember my initial stages of transformation from a shy and incompetent speaker to a more confident speaker. I would practice my speech around 15-20 times before delivering it in Toastmasters club. This preparation played a major role in alleviating the jitters I would feel on the day of my speech. When you are well prepared you are more confident that your speech would turn out well and this keeps you in a relaxed mode.

Public speaking is not an inborn talent but rather a skill which can be cultivated by anyone. It’s true that for some people it comes naturally but even they have to practice in order to spruce up their skills. I have seen some excellent speakers not doing well due to lack of preparation. A word of caution though – Do not over practice. Preparation should be done well in advance and just relax in the in the last 15-30 minutes before delivering your speech .

4. Know your audience

Get to know your audience. We get nervous when we are speaking in front of a group of strangers. If we were to give the same speech in front of our friends we would not be that fearful. Try mingling with few people in the audience before starting out your speech. This makes you feel that those in the audience are not aliens but people just like you. Apart from relaxing your tension this also helps in improving your connection with the audience.

5. Reach out to like-minded people

The best thing about joining a public speaking group is that you get to meet people who are highly supportive and encouraging. You realize that you are not alone; in fact there are millions of people out there with the same mission as yours. You get inspired by those who have transformed from a timid speaker to a confident speaker. You think “If he is capable of doing it then why not me?” You also learn a lot from the experienced speakers. They will be ready to lend you a helping hand by giving you tips on how they have achieved success. There are also people who can give you some genuine feedback on the areas you are good at and the areas you need to work on.

6. Take criticism positively

We all love to receive compliments but when it comes to criticism we prefer to be on the giving end rather than the receiving end. The successful you are, the more criticisms you will have to handle so learn to handle them with a positive attitude. I have seen people who have given up after receiving few negative comments from their peers. Don’t dwell on your criticisms. When someone‘s giving you a negative feedback take it as an opportunity to learn and grow, not a reason to quit.

7. Persevere

Be patient. Do not expect things to change in a jiffy. Some people might take more time to improve and others might take less. Do not push yourself too hard by comparing yourself with others. Just go with the flow.

8. Let go of the perfectionist in you

There are people who are unable to take the first step, forever waiting to attain a state of perfection. You feel that your speech is not perfect or your preparation is not up to the mark and wait endlessly for the moment when you would feel everything is perfect. But that moment never comes resulting in never ending procrastination. You don’t have to be perfect in order to be good speaker. All that matters is how passionate you are about what you are saying. Just speak from your heart and your audience will appreciate you for your sincerity.

9. Bounce back

Failures are stumbling blocks to success. Let me quote my personal experience here – It was my 9th speech in toastmasters club. After uttering few lines, my mind went blank and I forgot my entire speech.  Standing silent I tried to recollect the speech but could not recall a word. I pulled out the sheet where I had written my speech, went through it for few minutes and then continued the speech from where I had left. It was a bit disappointing at that moment but not as dreadful as we think. Now looking back I am glad to have experienced this. Had this not happened I would not have been overjoyed after successfully delivering my 10th speech. You learn a lot from your failures. Resist the temptation to give up and keep bouncing back

10. Celebrate your success

We often take our success for granted. Reward yourself for the success you have achieved however small it might be. Give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to get over your fear. By rewarding yourself you will feel good and stay motivated to take the next step.

Don’t take yourself very seriously. Approach public speaking with a committed yet playful manner. Children rarely experience stage fright because they approach public speaking in a playful manner. They are having fun while doing it. Adopt the same attitude

Let today be the day you take the first step to triumph over your public speaking fear. So go ahead and rock the stage.

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Related Articles:

The Principles of Public Speaking

How To Craft The Perfect Speech

  • http://www.lionslinger.com Walter

    Public speaking in not easy unless one develop his/her inner character. Your advice here are truly helpful, the only thing needed is to have the courage to make it happen. :-)

    • Swati

      Walter you are right it does require lot of courage…the first step would seem daunting but it would become more easy after that :)

  • http://www.anxiouscandy.com Faramarz

    I find public speaking to be quite easy – consider this all you have to do is get up and talk, your audience is apart from you now compare this to talking to someone one on one which i find to be far more pressure

  • http://www.curved-vision.co.uk simon – presentation skills trainer

    Hi – it’s always good to find sensible advice about public speaking online (though if there was too much of it, I’d be out of business! :) ). That said, there are a couple of points it’s worth adding to what you’ve got here.

    Firstly, a pedantic issue – public speaking isn’t reported anywhere that I know of as the most common phobia: it’s often cited as the most common “greatest fear”. Fears and phobias are very different indeed. Confusing the two is one of the biggest reasons people don’t risk learning to make presentations… they get scared, think they’re phobic and stop. In fact they’re “just” scared and not only is that normal, it’s good!

    Secondly, while I urge people to get plenty of practice at speaking in public I’d not take Toastmasters as a fantastic place to learn *necessarily*. The good thing is that you get feedback from your peers, which is great but the downside is that you only get feedback from your *peers*… some of the advice I’ve seen given has been wrong to the point of potentially dangerous! I’m not saying don’t use TM, just use it appropriately.

    Cheers….. Simon

    • Swati

      Hi Simon,

      Little bit of nervousness before speaking is normal and the fear of public speaking can be overcome by anyone if they make an effort to take the first step.

      You are right…it is necessary to use toastmasters club appropriately…the feedback others give might not always be right…but it is not always wrong either…the supportive and encouraging environment however bolsters our growth as a speaker.

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    I’ve always been a fairly decent public speaker, likely because I was a musician and did many solo performances in college. I think one thing that helps is realizing that the audience never knows when you screw up, and if you focus on mistakes you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com Editor, Pick The Brain

    Great Job, Swati – getting many thumbs up on our facebook page! http://tinyurl.com/ybo3xub

    • Swati

      Thanks Erin :)

  • http://www.gatesoftheheart.wordpresss.com Carolyn

    Nice article! Thanks! I am one of those that gets in front of an audience and my mind goes blank, can’t think quickly on my feet, etc. You get the picture, I’m sure. So, your points are well taken. It’s interesting, however, that I used to go around the State performing trainings of a new program I’d started and I had no problem at all speaking! I wonder why the difference now. I could stand to follow your pointers!

    cj
    http://www.gatesoftheheart.wordpress.com

    • Swati

      Hi Carolyn,

      I can relate to you as I have had similar experiences…Just approach the situation with a positive attitude and courage…I am sure you will regain the confidence by practicing public speaking again…it’s like any other skill which will improve with experience and constant effort…All the best :)

  • http://www.executivespeaking.com.au Public Speaking Courses

    All great points.

    I wonder where the ‘fact’ that people fear public speaking more than death came from? It is quoted everywhere – myself included – but do you know where the study came from? I’d love to know!

    Cheers

    Darren Fleming
    Australia’s Corporate Speech Coach

    • Swati

      Thanks Darren

  • http://tradexmindnow.com JorgeN

    I’m a big fan of Toastmasters. I encourage everyone to consider participating in it – IMO, its mission is larger than being a great speaker. Try it!
    I’ve supplemented it with this software tool to program my mind and achieve anything I set my mind to (Tony Robbins introduced me to it): http://www.tradexmindnow.com
    JorgeN

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  • http://www.ConfidentlySpeaking.com Seymour Segnit

    In regards to the “Mind Matters” section, I’d like to add that changing the questions you ask yourself before you get on stage can make a huge difference in your performance. Asking questions such as “What will happen if I blank out on stage?” vs. “What will happen if I blow it out of the park?” play a crucial part in the results of our, and our audience’s, experience. Try it on the next time you have a public speaking engagement and I guarantee that you will feel more confident onstage.

    More about this subject here: http://ConfidentlySpeaking.com

    Cheers,
    Seymour

  • http://www.klutzontoast.com sea

    Love the Thomas Edison quote in this context. So true!

  • Jami

    This blog has really calmed me down. I was majorly stressing out about my next class presentation, and I found this and it has helped tremendously! Thanks for the help! :)

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  • Mercy chumo

    Public speaking depends on how serious you take it, the longer you take to do what you want to because of fear, the more intense your fear will become.So go ahead and do it now don’t wait because you will end up not doing it at all.

  • http://www.rackmountsales.com/Cat5_KVM_Switches_s/56.htm KVM Switches

    I agree with these points but you have omitted a crucial one
    – take a public speaking class! If you treat pubic speaking as a skill to
    master, as you would tennis or sales, you will have even more reason to feel
    confident.

     

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  • Kylie Nicole 13

    i was embarrassed in the 3rd grade. i have never read out loud or gave any speeches or a presintation scence. im a Junior in high school! and im being forced to give one in a week what should i do? :/

  • kriti upadhyay

    i am also afraid of facing public.i will try for ur tips

  • Lohitha10

    your advice is very nic…from dis advice ill try 2 reduce my stage fright..
     

  • Ronald Carl Holmes

    i used to be real shy in school and very reserve.i had stage fright when i perform on school stage platform.Until one day i decided to drop out of school in the 9th grade.Well actually the main reason i drop out of High School is cause rivalry gang member would drive up on school campus at Dominguez High School in Compton California and gun shots would ring out and the school Administrator would have to dial 911 for emergency and that what really discourage me from attending school and etc.

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  • Bassitout

    Tommaro is my speech im so scared i dont what
    What will happen but by
    Reading all these points
    I have confidence
    To go on the stage

  • Tina

    I am still in school and they make us do presentations and it really frightens me. Sometimes i blackout but other times i gasp for air as i talk and everyone just looks at me like i am crazy. I don’t know what to do about it anymore. I thought about dropping out form school, but i really like everything about school but the talking part. Any suggestions?????

    • Nithya R.

      hai tina, I do have the same problem like you but now I’m working as lecturer. The simplest way is, you have to ignore others perception towards you. Imagine you are talking to your dearest person like your parents. it’s how I do at first and now I love to talk in front of my students. 

      • Rajan S.Raj

        Hi Nithya,

        you are right. Now you are talking in front of your students. thst is good. Just imagine ,you are giving a presentation in front of your superiors, I mean dustinguished professors. iF YOU CAN COPE UP WITH THE SAME SELF CONFIDENCE WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW, then that is the real achievement. otherwise, it needs hard work and more home work to weed out the menace. Any way be cool and optimistic.

    • MT

      Yea, I had a presentation at 12:00 today and I was nervous and I might have made a few mistakes, maybe more, but the key for me is I can learn from it, the more times do it, the better you get. Its like playing guitar, at first you suck, (especially in front of others for the first time) but if you keep practising you will get better. The more you do it, the faster you will learn. I may not be that good right now,but the progress is all the evidence I need to keep at it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669955413 Daniel Kingsley

    These are great tips.  As a former barrister and now public speaking trainer, I’d add one more.  Connect with the audience as *individuals* rather than as a group.

    This ties into research by Dr Stephen Porges on the Social Nervous system which found that it is deeply soothing for human beings to feel connected to each other.  Simply by allowing your eyes to gently meet the eyes of the people you’re speaking to (for long enough for you to feel a connection) your SNS will be switched on and the body’s self-soothing response will be activated.

    Lee Glickstein has developed this into a method that he calls Speaking Circles – see his book Be Heard Now (available cheaply on Amazon).

    If anyone is interested in taking this method further I offer training in London (www.stepfowardandspeak.co.uk) and there are other facilitators in various other parts of the world – see http://www.speakingcircles.com

  • aqujack

    One of the best articles on overcoming fear of public speaking I’ve ever read. It is clear through the text that the author is someone who has overcome that fear and knows what they are talking about through experience-many others do not.

  • ali

    I think once you practice with a smaller group, it becomes easier as your group grows bigger.:)

  • rebo minks

    i cant get my voice out while in public coz i fear that maybe my english will be less than expected

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  • Linktobnr

    Godd tips very usefull  by binoy

    • Willowwoe123

      i hate speeces!! but now im all goods wif it

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  • Karrthik Rs

    yeah in ma side olso d  public speaking is quite difficult to express all ma thoughts…bt aftr studied des,i get a confidence to overcum all ma negatives…d one advice n ma view s if u r nt strong n pub speaking  plz prepare nd practice 10-12 min before wen yo deliver…thank yo…and at d same tym thanks fa yar above doz 10 means….really des would help me to improve ma skills… 

  • Gordon Bell

     

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    I had the honor of consulting to several high-end clients with this most
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  • Ihabeldin

    People say that to get rid off this fear you have to speak. Do a presentation or whatever but for me I feel like it just get worse and worse every time I do it. What can I do?!?!? I have done loads of presentations!

  • Gadams

    I was told as a tip, to always try and look over the crowd and it looks as though you are looking into the crowd. This would reduce distraction until you conquer the fear and learn your style of public speaking.

  • Becky

    thank you so much for this information. i WAS soooo afriad of public speaking , but now i am a little more confident!
    the key is great parents,friends and supporters

  • Slh87world

    I remember when I was a bachelor student, I remember once that I was talking to a group of 40 students and teachers .. I was very frightened and my heart was beating very fast .. I start to lose words .. then I stopped speaking suddenly .. ~_~  .. I was very embarrassed .. I wish I could die in that moment .. and all of the audience was disappointed .. I fall in depression for many months.
    Now, I’m in preparing for my thesis, I’m studding master .. I became more stronger in presentations .. I love the way I present in the class .. I speak in front of people, and groups of students well .. you know .. it is a matter of practicing .. I love it when I see my successes :)

  • parth

    thanx you are a life saver . Can you plz write an article on how to remove the addiction of gadgets ! this will help me alot

  • I S J.

    it’s not easy really to speak while facing public.
    I hope ur tips really help.

  • Oscar Williams

    when you see the crowd our mind going to panic automatically. Yoga and self confident is the best practice to over come this problems open-minds-uk com

    • overcoming

      Yes on self-confidence. I practice yoga regularly and have played an instrument regularly in front of a large audience, but giving a speech is still my weakest link.

  • Nad

    I have to do a presentation for class in a few weeks in front of a few CEOs in the area I’m absolutely terrified. Before a speech I’m quite comfortable and calm as soon as its my turn my throat knots up I forget what I have to say and my voice gets shaky which I find very frustrating because I know if it wasn’t for my fear of public speaking I would be able to do anything :)

    • B

      I have exactly the same thing, I love the idea of being good at public speaking but as soon as it’s my turn my brain shuts down and my voice gets shaky which makes me only focus on how I come accross rather than on the topic I’m presenting

      • overcoming

        Absolutely, me, too. My boss had me give a speech in front of 200 of our staff in an auditorium as I have recently been promoted to a Leadership role. Honestly, I wasn’t that scared before going up as I thought I was well prepared, even though I have little experience with public speaking. Also I know our staff at least a little bit, so there was no one that I was unfamiliar with in the audience. The class I took in college where I had to speak in front of the class only contained 15 class members and we gave our speeches in the classroom. That’s a lot different than 200 people on a stage in an auditorium! As soon as I went up to give my speech, I introduced myself. Then something happened. My voice started shaking and I couldn’t even make out certain words. I had to pause a couple of times to gather my thoughts because I suddenly forgot what I was saying. I am required to give another speech at the next quarter. I asked colleagues for advice. A few hints they gave: Look at yourself in the mirror prior to the speech and do a ‘power stance’, Focus on one person in the audience at a time instead of everyone at once, Hold something in your hand for distraction, practice practice PRACTICE.

  • Cheyenne Mallinger

    I honestly know that though I practice my speech at least 20-30 times by myself and even 10-15 times with my friends, I’ll still mess up once it’s time to give the actual speech to my peers. They’re all so much more confident and unaffected by the chance of screwing up… not that I’m not confident, it’s just I’m not comfortable having to speak loud and clear because I’ve been shy ever since I learned to talk. Now I’m a Senior in High School and speech isn’t a priority but I decided to take it anyway. So… I guess my best option is to just suck it up and give it a try (I’m probably going to chicken out).

  • jane567

    yep! public speaking is a nerve for everyone. for those who are too nervous and feel like they could use some help unlearning their fear, here is a link to a great course that you could purchase to help along the way.

    http://tinyurl.com/qj3mr2y

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  • ANTHONY TABAN

    AM A STUDENT BUT WHENEVER I WANT TO TALK IN FRONT OF STUDENTS OR ASK MY LECTURER A QUESTION MY HEART BEATS VERY FAST THAT I COULDN’T BE ABLE TO TALK WHAT IS HAPPENING? I HAVE NEVER GIVEN ANY PRESENTATION BECAUSE OF THAT I FEEL EMBARRASSED CAN YOU HELP?

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