Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking
Public speaking has never been in my comfort zone.
My heart starts to race a little even during those short and sweet roundtable sort of elevator introductions we’re so often expected to deliver when attending a new professional group or meeting.
What’s with that?
I had performed on stage in theater productions all through high school, throughout my four years in college, and in community theater. Shouldn’t public speaking be easy?
When put in “in the spotlight” situations, I inwardly freak out a little every time.
Just last week, as a sponsor of a chamber of commerce program, I presented the Business & Technology Student of the Month Award to a senior at one of the local high schools. As part of that presentation, I was expected to stand in front of the class and talk about my business and answer questions.
Those same all-familiar nerves picked at me throughout my entire 10 minutes center stage.
Do you get those crazy butterflies and anxiety about speaking in front of a group like I do? The odds are you do.
According to Statistic Brain, the National Institute of Mental Health’s research in 2013 indicates that 75 percent of people suffer from speech anxiety.
That’s three out of every four of us!
Note that this number has been challenged by Richard Garber who blogs extensively on public speaking. According to information Garber has found, approximately 21.2% of U.S. adults have a fear of public speaking and 10.7% have a phobia of public speaking. Check out his post, which calls out the stats that are being used in articles everywhere.
In either case, we’re not alone in our suffering from fear of public speaking.
But what makes standing up and talking in front of people so doggone scary?
In an article on Psychology Today’s website, Glenn Croston shares, “When faced with standing up in front of a group, we break into a sweat because we are afraid of rejection.”
That makes sense to me. While we may not be consciously thinking, “I hope they don’t reject me,” we fear messing up or looking foolish. Or at least I do when I’m putting my personal self out there.
So how can we get past our anxiety and feel more at ease with public speaking?
I’ve searched for and found some articles that provide what seems to be some very sound advice for those of us with nagging cases of glossophobia. Here they are along with one tip from each that I found particularly helpful or interesting:
Five Tips For Reducing Public Speaking Nervousness – “Whether you’re good at public speaking or not has nothing to do with your value as a person. It’s simply a skill that you can learn and become better at with practice.”
Thirty Ways To Manage Speaking Anxiety – “Eat for success–foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.”
Eleven Easy Ways To Finally Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking – “Slow and measured breathing is a sign that you’re in control. Before you go to the front of the room, concentrate on taking a few, slow breaths. Repeat this a few times. When you start to speak, remember to pause and breathe after you make a point.”
7 Little Tricks To Speak In Public With No Fear – “All you have to do is admit that you are a bit nervous speaking to your audience. When you do this, the audience will be more forgiving if your nervousness shows up later on.”
How I (Finally) Got Over My Fear Of Public Speaking – “Even if you feel you’re not entirely ready, actively seek out speaking opportunities and take each one that comes your way, whether it’s simply presenting to a few colleagues or giving a talk to a room of 30 people.”
Of course, each of these articles offers other tips as well, so dig in and take note of some things you’d like to remember and try the next time you’re faced with speaking to a group. I hope that in my quest to be more comfortable with public speaking I’ve helped you, too.
If you’re one of the lucky folks who either doesn’t have a fear of public speaking or who has overcome it, please share your tips and tricks in a comment.
Thanks for reading! — Dawn