Everyone is afraid of something. Whether you experience fear of spiders, car accidents, open spaces, or heights, the fear still exists. According to Psychology Today, about 25% of people experience Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking. Like other phobias, it can be debilitating, and hinder one’s ability to function. Fearing public speaking can prohibit one’s ability to voice opinions, affect relationships, and limit career growth.
After 10 years in marketing and running my business, I have made my fair share of speeches. I can speak from experience that improving these skills is critical for your long-term career.
Here are 5 tips for decreasing your fear of public speaking.
1.Prepare to become an authority.
Preparation is key when it comes to public speaking. You want to make sure that you are an authority when it comes to the topic, and not simply memorize bullet points. Speaking from your knowledge and experience rather than verbatim from an index card will boost your confidence. Before you speak, know what you are talking about. Organize your thoughts into a logical order that makes it easy for the audience to follow, and don’t wing it. That will cause you more stress and anxiety, which could lead to an even larger fear of public speaking.
2.Practice like crazy.
You are probably your own worst critic, so start there. Practice your speech over and over again in your bathroom mirror. Make eye contact with yourself like you are a member of the audience. Once you are comfortable, move on to another audience like a friend or even a pet. It may seem silly, but practice really does make perfect.
3.Pay attention to your audience.
Paying attention to your audience is not only important in the actual delivery of what you are saying, but in your preparation, as well. While you are preparing, make sure that you are tailoring your speech or presentation to your target audience. You want them to be engaged throughout, and feel like they are being talked to and not talked at. Realistically, nobody enjoys that. During your speech, find a few friendly faces and make eye contact with them. This will help to center keep you engaged with your audience, too.
4.Pent up energy can derail you.
Often times your nerves will get the best of you prior to speaking publicly. All of that nervous energy needs to be released in order for you to relax. To help with this, try moving around while you are speaking. As you move, you will start feeling more comfortable in your own skin. You may be thinking, “Everyone is looking at me.” Indeed, they are. Try shifting your thought pattern from you back to your audience. You are looking at them. By taking control back into your own hands, you can regain confidence and speak like a pro.
5.Personality is everything.
No one else in the world is quite like you. Show that to whoever you are speaking to! If you are naturally funny, crack a joke. Be yourself! It’s also ok to tell an audience that you are nervous. Your energy will determine how the audience receives you, so give them the best version of yourself. If you are able to let go and have fun with what you are doing, the audience will follow suit.
Public speaking can be extremely intimidating, and frightening. The only way to overcome your fear is to take the time to work on your skill. Once you master speaking in public, you will open yourself up to sharing your ideas, showcasing your work, and conquering your career.