Overcoming fears of public speaking

Did you know that public speaking is the number one anxiety in North America? The second greatest fear is death!

If you have the fear of public speaking, you are not alone. Here are a few things you can do to deal with your anxiety.

Overcoming speech fear

Realize the source of your fear. In a nutshell, it is not knowing what will happen when you are in front of people, giving your speech or presentation. Your anxiety is not that you don’t know your topic. It is that you don’t know what will happen when you step to the podium or table. The fear of being judged, making a mistake, not measuring up, getting hurt either mentally or physically can get in the way of a good performance (speech, seminar, sales presentation, etc.). Remember that people in the audience really want you to succeed. Nobody is standing there hoping you’ll be boring or bad. If you are coming from an authentic place, and you cover the material with clarity, you’ve won 3/4 of your inner battle with fear.

Face down your fears. If you feel your knees turning to jelly out of fear, remind yourself that anxiety stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Almost certainly, whatever it is that you’re frightened of won’t happen. If there is a real worry, for example you’ve forgotten an important prop, do something about it and then stop worrying. Remember, you can always rationalize yourself out of fear.

Prepare adequately tackle your fears. Make sure you know the material that you’re going to cover. Make a detailed outline, and break it into basic points to memorize. Include subpoints and the title of speech.

Practice overcoming your fears. Find business organizations, networks and clubs in your area (such as Toastmasters) that can afford you the opportunity to practice. Remember to choose topics that you are already an expert on. Speaking on a topic that you are not familiar with will increase your stress, and impede on your performance.

Buy some recording software, and record everything on your laptop. Review it to see where you can improve. Have speaking pros attend your live presentation to give you feedback. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn more every time you go out.

Photo Credit: fspugna via Compfight cc

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