The fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, is the single most common fear. In fact, approximately 75% of people share this same fear. The thought of speaking in front of a crowd might make you experience a range of symptoms from sweaty palms and a racing heart to heavy breathing and difficulty swallowing. This fear can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic. So, how can you overcome this fear in order to become a better speaker? The good news is that you CAN overcome this fear with preparation and persistence. Public speaking is a valuable skill that is worth mastering, so consider these helpful tips for overcoming your fear.
One of the best ways to overcome your fear of public speaking is to start with a small group. Choose a topic that is of interest to you and practice presenting about it to a small group of family or friends. From there, slowly build up to small groups of coworkers and then larger team meetings and so on until you are comfortable speaking in front of any size crowd.
It’s important to spend plenty of time adequately preparing your presentation. Make sure you have a clear outline of what you plan to say and rehearse the presentation until you know the material backward and forward. The more you know your material, the less nervous you will be when it comes time to present it.
Practice is one of the most important elements of overcoming public speaking. You need to practice aloud over and over again. Do it in front of family and friends or join a local public speaking group. You should also practice in front of a mirror and even video record yourself presenting. This is a great way to watch yourself and get a better idea of what areas could use some improvement.
Take a Public Speaking Class
The ability to speak in public is a skill that can really help improve your personal and professional life. Therefore, it is worth investing your time. There are several different public speaking courses available that you can take in your spare time. The right training can help you overcome your fear and can also set you up for success. If you invest in yourself as a public speaker, you may find that it pays off when it comes to your career.
Practice Positive Visualization
There really is power in positive thinking and this type of visualization has been proven to reduce fear and anxiety. People who engage in this technique typically perform better than those who do not. It involves visualizing the steps necessary to improve their skills and then imagining themselves succeeding. It also allows you to imagine what you would do if things went wrong and how you would cope. Knowing that you have a plan B in place can help you recover should your mind go blank during your presentation.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Another helpful technique is to practice deep breathing right before your present in public. When we get nervous, our breathing becomes faster and our hearts begin pounding. Deep breathing exercises can slow the heart and lower your stress levels, helping you gain control of your speaking voice.
Address Your Fears Head On
When you’re afraid of something, you tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen. It can be helpful to make a list of everything you worry about when public speaking such as forgetting your material, stumbling on the stage, losing your train of thought, not knowing an answer to a question, your technology messing up, etc. Then, face those fears directly and identify a probable solution to each one and an alternative outcome. When you feel comfortable that you have a plan in place, those fears begin to feel less overwhelming and you begin to realize the likelihood of them happening is less than you thought.