For many people, just hearing the term “public speaking” can instantly drive fear into their minds. A fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the entire world, but unlike other fears, it can sometimes be one of the hardest to avoid.
Individuals who are members of certain organizations, representatives of their church, or those who hold certain jobs, maybe instantly thrust into a situation where they need to speak in front of others.
This fear, also known as Glossophobia, impacts millions of people every day. In fact, according to StatisticBrain.com, around 74% of people suffer from public speaking anxiety. This type of anxiety impacts both men and women equally.
It does not matter your age, gender, economic level, or how confident you are, Glossophobia can impact virtually any type of person.
While you may not be able to control having this fear, there are things that you can do in order to finally overcome your fear of public speaking— no matter how long you have struggled with it.
Change the Way You Think About Nerves
If you have a fear of public speaking, chances are the moment you even think about stepping up to the podium, you start imagining all of the nerves and anxiety that come with it. For those who have a significant fear of public speaking, those nerves likely start to come in when just talking about speaking in public.
The rapid heartbeat. The sweaty palms. The pit in your stomach. These are all of the physical effects that come to mind when people think about their fear of public speaking.
Instead of viewing these sensations as nerves and as a negative side effect of having to speak in public, you should change the way that you think about them. They aren’t a bad thing. In fact, studies show that performance actually improves when people are under moderate amounts of stress. It’s true in the workforce, in sports, in the military, and, yes, even in public speaking.
This type of “nervous stress” will ramp up your adrenaline, give you an extra boost of energy, and gift to you that kickstart you need to step up to the plate and really nail your speech.
Don’t think about “nerves” as something that will hold you back, think of them as your secret weapon — your extra spark to really make you shine during game time.
Speak From the Heart
If you are honest, sincere, and speak about something that is true and something you are passionate about, it can really transform the way that you think about public speaking. Don’t worry about trying to look a certain way or putting on a certain façade— then, you will only be focused on what others think of you.
Keep your language simple— make it easy for audiences to understand.
Keep your message straightforward as it will help leave an impression.
Speak with honesty as it will resonate with those who are listening.
When people like what they hear and can follow and understand the message, they are generally happier and more engaged as audience members. When your audience responds well, it makes your fear of speaking in public much less prevalent.
Don’t Wing It, Just Practice
You may think you are good at thinking on your feet. You may think that practicing only makes your nerves work. You may think that a rehearsed speech is going to put more pressure on you to deliver perfection.
No matter what you have done to convince yourself that you don’t need to practice or that you can just give an impromptu message— don’t do it. You need to practice, even if you don’t want to.
When it comes to practicing, if you want to really start building a level of comfort with your public speaking, your practices need to be real dress rehearsals. Don’t just sit in your pajamas and read your speech out loud or stand in front of a mirror. Dress the part, pretend you’re in the room, stand up straight as if you were in front of a podium, and even practice in front of a few friends or audience members.
This is the only way to practice to help you overcome your fear. Doing a half-hearted practice won’t make anything better for you.
Embrace Your Fear
If you want to overcome your fear of public speaking, you first need to embrace it— and not try to change it.
According to BDB Communications, Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, is still the number one fear in the world, above fears of death, spiders, and heights. It is a common fear — and it’s alright. It is important that you learn to embrace your fear before you ever try to overcome it.
Public speaking actually comes with a lot of benefits: it is linked to career success, it can help you give off a sense of authority, and it can help build your interpersonal skills. Chances are, people who don’t have a fear of public speaking will try to tell you about all of these great benefits as if they are reasons for you to no longer fear speaking in public.
These benefits won’t get rid of your fear. Knowing that public speaking can be good for you and your career won’t just magically erase the fears and feelings that you have. You need to embrace this fear and accept it. If you are afraid of speaking in public, that is OK.
Once you are comfortable with the fact that public speaking makes you nervous, you can move on and start embracing different public speaking tips that will help you be a better speaker. If you focus on all of the reasons you shouldn’t be afraid of public speaking, try to cover up your fear, or try to convince yourself to “get over it,” that is what you are going to focus on (and thus, create more of).
Embrace the fear. Know that it is there and know that you can overcome it. Then, the rest will fall into place.
Think of Public Speaking As a Skill, Not a Talent
So much of overcoming your fear of public speaking is about changing your mindset. If you change your mindset, everything else will follow. This is one of the most important public speaking tips.
Think of public speaking as a skill instead of a talent — this can get you in the mindset to work on improving your skill and growing your abilities because you can’t just give up and say “I don’t have the talent to speak in front of others.”
While some can avoid speaking in public, others may worry that this fear is limiting their career or holding them back from their professional goals. It may be. This is particularly true if you are an entrepreneur and at the head of your business. If you own your company, you are going to have to be onstage. You can’t have someone else do the public speaking for you.
So, if public speaking is a skill, you must practice it so you can get better and so you can improve your professional endeavors. This is the same as practicing any other skill you need at your job; it should take the same diligence and effort.
Look and Act the Part
If you have ever thought about taking the advice “fake it till you make it,” now is the time.
If you don’t want to be afraid of public speaking any longer, then don’t look like you are afraid to speak in public. Before you go on stage, make sure you look your best. Dress like a professional. Take a deep breath in and blow out all of that fear and anxiety. Then, position yourself as if you are the most confident and talented speaker in the world.
Stand up straight. Hold your head high. Roll your shoulders back and down. Stand confidently. Don’t fidget. Don’t play with your hands or your clothes and don’t look around nervously. Look straight ahead. Look confident.
If you do this, you would be surprised by the amount of confidence you will start to feel in yourself. When you look this confident and are acting this confident, you won’t be able to help but feel more confident in yourself as a speaker. Take one final deep breath in, smile knowing you are about to give your audience a speech they will enjoy and that the will benefit from, and then you can begin.