Getting Beyond Your Fear of Public Speaking

Getting Beyond Your Fear of Public Speaking image fear public speakingGetting Beyond Your Fear of Public Speaking

There are three things to aim at in public speaking:

first, to get into your subject,

then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly,

to get your subject into the heart of your audience

Alexander Gregg

When someone asks you to speak, do you look and/ or feel like that guy in the picture? Jerry Seinfeld has a bit about public speaking: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears that people have. Although this task appears to be rather simple and straightforward to many, there are several factors that can come into play for those who are not comfortable with it. So before you blow it off realize that this is a legitimate type of fear for the people who have it.

People whose job requires that they speak in public are not immune to this. For some people, this fear is so great that it can cause a great deal of stress. This is an issue that must be attended to because people who experience fear of public speaking end up not delivering the quality speech they would otherwise be capable of. Indeed, this feeling of looming fear can cloud your ability to focus on the task at hand. After all, an effective public speech should produce a satisfying experience for both the speaker and for the audience.

This is not an easy fear to deal with, so let us look at the issue by trying to modify our perspectives and behavior toward this and hopefully be able to help you overcome this type of fear.

Public speaking is not supposed to be stressful

Fear of public speaking is quite common, and for some, is inherently stressful. Communicating with others is an activity that you share with other humans everyday. So, how and why is public speaking different? One way to challenge your perception of public speaking is to imagine this activity just like any other regular communication that you do everyday. The only difference with public speaking is that you are addressing more people than you normally would.

Acquiring this new perspective is not something that you can achieve overnight. However, just focusing on what you need to share during your public speaking and less on the actual delivery process will help to begin to lift the burden.

Let go of the idea of perfection

This is another insidious culprit in the mix of why people fear the idea of speaking in public. Sure, the idea of embarrassing yourself in front of many people is frightening. But the content of your speech is what is these people have come to hear and will remember. They won’t be focused on how flawlessly you delivered the speech. Once you are able to get rid of this anxiety about perfection, then you should be able to find the whole idea less frightening as you speak to larger groups.

Focus on the why

One of the most common “hidden” causes of the stress that is often associated with public speaking is related to the need to perform perfectly. This amounts to trying to impress the audience with your delivery. Focus instead on what value the audience is meant to get from your speech delivery, instead of trying to make them come away being impressed with how you did. Although delivery will boost your success at a public speaking, the most important thing to remember is that your primary goal is to communicate effectively. If this offers any consolation to you, most public speakers do not get 100% approval from their audience most of the time. And as you hone in on the why, the purpose of the speech, you can begin to…

Find your voice

Most of the time, when you are delivering a speech, or asked to do one, it is something that is important to you, something that you feel passionate about. Make the words yours. It is all too easy with internet access to pick up bits and pieces of other people’s speeches, instead of constructing your own. Getting ideas from other sources is a great thing. But you will have less fear and deliver better quality when what you have to say sounds like you, expresses the feelings in your heart and uses words from your own well-spring.

Becoming a Good Public Speaker

Now that you have can begin to recognize some of the major causes of your fear, you can move from working to overcome your fear, to doing a better, and eventually good job at your speech, as well.

Study your subject matter thoroughly so you can be confident when the time comes for delivery.

• Polish your speaking skills. This will help you relay the information clearly and authoritatively.

• Prepare all of your presentation materials so you can deliver your speech in an organized fashion.

Practice your delivery. Even the pros do this.

Next time you are called upon to deliver a speech, take your time and prepare. Get the words into your voice. Breathe, drink lots of water. And start walking through this one step at a time.


Photo Credit: Joaquin Villaverde Photography via Compfight cc

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