Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common fears. In fact, nearly 75% of people have fears and anxiety towards speaking in front of an audience. This fear can range from slight nervousness to a paralyzing fear that induces panic. Many people try to avoid public speaking at all costs, but the fact remains that public speaking is a highly regarded skill that can help propel your career. No matter what industry you work in, chances are you will be asked to speak publicly at some point. Whether you are being asked to present to the team at your next group meeting or you have been selected to present in front of a large audience at your company’s next conference, you will likely be faced with the task of speaking publicly. The good news is that preparation, practice, and persistence can help you overcome your fear. Here are some of the most common fears associated with public speaking and how you can overcome them.
Fear of Failing
Many speakers are so worried about failure that they become panicked with anxiety. The problem is, when you doubt yourself, this will be evident in your speech and your audience will doubt you as well. Instead, work to build up your confidence by rehearsing your speech and familiarizing yourself with your topic. The more knowledgeable you become on your topic, the more confident you will feel about presenting it. As you begin to build up confidence, your self-assurance will begin to beat out your self-doubt.
Fear of Forgetting
Perhaps the most common fear associated with public speaking is the fear of forgetting your material. You might begin speaking only to find that your mind has gone blank midway through your sentence. We have all experienced that moment of awkward silence when we forget what we were going to say next. The good news is that you can overcome this fear through practice and preparation. You can also memorize a basic outline for your speech or use simple cue cards to help you stay on track.
Fear of Nervousness
It’s normal to be nervous but you never want your audience to see you sweat. If you struggle with shaky hands or a shaky voice, you can conquer these nerves through practice. Rehearse your presentation multiple times in front of a mock audience. Ask family, friends, or colleagues to listen to your presentation and provide helpful feedback. The more you practice putting yourself in the spotlight, the less nervous you will be when it comes time to give your presentation.
Fear of Technological Glitches
Technology is great but we all know that it can also give us trouble when we need it most. Nothing can throw you off track faster than a malfunctioning PowerPoint. You can handle this fear and put your mind at ease by testing out your equipment right before the presentation. You should also plan to bring a backup plan, should the worst happen. You can at least feel more secure knowing you have a Plan B just in case.
Fear of a Tough Audience
Audiences can be great, giving you head nods, smiles, and laughs just when you want them. On the flip side, they can make it feel like crickets in the room. You need to be prepared for anything. If you plan on telling a joke, brace yourself for both kinds of audiences and be prepared to recover if no one laughs. Learn to brush things off and keep going. Remember, you can’t control how your audience behaves so don’t let it ruin your presentation.