Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety

Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, is the single most common phobia. Nearly 75% of people admit to experiencing this, so you aren’t alone in your fear. It can range from slight nervousness to a nearly paralyzing fear and panic. For many people, this fear is so great that they avoid public speaking situations altogether. However, what if you can’t avoid it? What if your job requires you to speak in front of others from time to time? Furthermore, what if you are trying to earn a promotion? You certainly don’t want to be overlooked due to an inability to speak in public. The good news is that with preparation and persistence you can overcome this fear. Here are a few things you can do to manage and reduce your public speaking anxiety.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

When you are confronted with an uncomfortable situation, your body automatically experiences increased physiological activity such as sweaty palms, a fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and tension in your muscles. You can relax your body and reduce these symptoms with a variety of techniques. Deep breathing and meditation can help you control your breathing, lower your heart rate, and ease the tension in your muscles. You should practice relaxation techniques prior to any public speaking. Relaxation is an effective technique for calming your body so you can perform your best. 

Adequately Prepare

The better you know your topic, the less likely you will make a mistake. Oftentimes, the anxiety associated with public speaking comes from fear of messing up. That’s why it is so important to spend plenty of time preparing yourself. Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the topic so you have a thorough understanding of what you are presenting. Then, rehearse your speech several times so you are comfortable with the entire presentation. You should practice in front of people and ask for feedback. Not only will this help you become more confident speaking in front of others, but the feedback can help you improve your speaking skills so you become even more confident. 

Identify Your Worries and How You Can Conquer Them

When you’re afraid of something, you may overestimate how often bad things will happen. A good exercise is to write down your specific worries. For example: Forgetting your material, losing your place, technical difficulties, a question you can’t answer, a bored audience. Once you have written down each worry, jot down a probable solution for each one. Knowing you have a plan in place should things go awry will help you feel more secure about your presentation. 

Visualize Success

Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Imagine yourself doing well and nailing your presentation. Think about doing everything right and winning over your audience. Positive thinking can decrease your fears and negative feelings and help to relieve some of your anxiety. 

Take a Public Speaking Course

One of the best ways to overcome your fear is to simply face it head on and learn how to do it well. There are plenty of courses and programs available to help you become a better public speaker. You can learn through practice, mock speeches, and mentors to become a more confident speaker. These courses can also teach you tips and tricks for speaking in public.