How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

The first step in overcoming the fear of public speaking is identifying your goals.

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

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Understand the fear

The fear of public speaking is a common one. In fact, studies show that more than 70% of people experience some level of anxiety prior to giving a speech and it's not just the thought of standing in front of a crowd that causes us to feel this way; sometimes it's just the thought of talking to one other person.

The fear comes from the idea that others will judge us negatively when we're speaking, or even worse: they won't care at all about what we have to say. It's easy to get caught up in our own minds and think about how others might perceive us based on what we say and do during our speeches. But if you can understand why these thoughts are happening, you can learn how to overcome them, and ultimately conquer your fear.

Identify your goals

The first step in overcoming the fear of public speaking is identifying your goals.

What's the purpose of your talk? What do you want the audience to learn? What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do after the talk? What will stick with them long after you leave the stage?

Practice, practice, practice

You might think that the best way to overcome your fear of public speaking is to practice in front of a live audience, but you could be wrong. What can seem like a good idea at first often doesn't work out so well on the big day?

Instead, you should try practicing in front of other people as much as possible. If there are any opportunities for you to do this, for example, if you're taking an acting class or making videos for YouTube, take them. In addition, ask trusted friends and family members if they'd like to come over once or twice per week and watch while you rehearse some speech material. This will help build up your confidence without putting yourself under too much pressure on game day.

Another excellent way to get rid of those butterflies before speaking publicly is by using a video camera during practice sessions until it feels natural enough that no one would mind hearing their own voice recorded all day long (and probably even after.). Recording yourself gives everyone else who's present, including potential audience members, an opportunity not only to hear how they sound but also to become familiar with what they're saying beforehand (which may help ease anxiety).

Give yourself permission to mess up

When you go into a speech, give yourself permission to make mistakes. It’s ok if you mess up, stutter, or forget your lines, it happens to everyone. If it happens to you, remember that it’s all right and no big deal because everyone fails sometimes.

Get comfortable with the idea of making mistakes and ask for help when you need it.

Have a basic outline, but don't script it out completely

Make sure you have a basic outline but don't script it out completely. You need to have some structure to your speech, or else you'll be left feeling like a deer in headlights when it comes time to actually deliver your presentation. But the structure should be in the form of a simple outline, with enough flexibility that you can change it on the fly if needed. Your aim is to make sure that you always know what's coming next, but also leave room for improvisation where appropriate.

Connect with the audience by telling stories

One of the best ways to connect with your audience is by telling stories. Your story can be personal or based on things you have observed. You don't have to be funny, but you should try to make it relevant to the topic at hand. People tend to remember stories more than just facts and figures, so it's a good idea if you're trying to illustrate a point.

Be confident and find comfort in being vulnerable with the audience

One of the most important things you can do when presenting is to be confident and find comfort in being vulnerable with the audience. When we are nervous and uncomfortable, it is easy to focus on ourselves instead of our audience. We worry about what they think of us or whether something will go wrong before it even happens. The key is to refocus your attention on your audience and their needs while delivering your presentation, rather than thinking about yourself.

Remember that people want you to succeed. So often when giving a talk, speakers focus on how they think others may judge them instead of thinking about how they can help their listeners learn something new or solve some kind of problem. For example:

  • How will my presentation help this group?
  • What information do I need from them?

Public speaking doesn't have to be as scary as you think

First, you need to change your mindset. If you've ever told yourself that public speaking is the most terrifying thing in the world, or if you have a tendency to think of it as an event that will leave you feeling inadequate and embarrassed for life, this isn't going to help. Instead:

  • Prepare thoroughly. Research your topic and know what points need to be made (and how). Practice at home until it feels comfortable enough for more people than just family members to hear it. Knowing what's going on in the world that relates to your subject matter, it'll help keep things interesting and relevant for both yourself and others listening to the audience.
  • Get feedback from trusted sources before giving presentations publicly (or even when speaking casually). If someone says something feels off about how well-prepared or confident you seem while speaking with them one-on-one then take note. They might mean they're worried about raising their hand during Q&A time later down the road, but whatever their reason may be taking this feedback seriously could help ease some anxiety before hitting "send" on those emails announcing our plans back home where everyone knows each other already anyway so nothing bad can happen right?

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