Does the world really need another blog on overcoming the fear of public speaking?
Maybe ..my experience with public speaking is that your ability to manage fear and nervousness is an evolutionary process. There is no quick fix or one fits all approach.
Only by speaking in front of groups countless times can you take this evolutionary journey.
Every opportunity to speak is also an opportunity to overcome the fear of speaking.
The first piece of advice that all speakers receive is to take 10 deep breaths before presenting.
Ensure you breathe deeply into your stomach rather than your chest.
Practice breathing out slower than you breathe in.
Perhaps investigate 7/11 breathing.
Breathe in for the count of 7 and Breathe out slowly for the count of 11.
This is one of the first approaches I took to help manage the fear of public speaking and I must admit I only found it somewhat effective.
There are a number of books that cover the topic of breathing.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This may seem obvious, but the more prepared you are the more relaxed you will be.
Open with a smile
Open with a Smile, it will help you relax and puts the audience at ease.
Posture and Channeling nervous energy
Good Posture can be incredibly effective at controlling those nerves.
Positive body language gives you confidence and puts you at ease.
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
- Ensure your weight is evenly distributed on each foot.
- Shoulders back and chin up.
Nervous energy needs to be managed, if not it will find its own way out such as swaying, moving from foot to foot, knocking knees, speaking too fast or it may affect the quality of your voice.
You can channel the nervous energy in a positive manner by showing passion for your subject matter, projection of your voice, using gestures, and moving around the stage between key points in your speech.
At first, you may find this approach “a little out there”, although it’s one of the most effective approaches for overcoming the fear of public speaking.
In advance of your speech, visualize yourself giving your speech.
Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear, and confident.
Imagine the audience enjoying your speech.
Imagine the applause from the audience after you have delivered a wonderful speech.
Slow down and the Power of Pauses
One of the most common problems new speakers encounter is that they speak too fast.
Over time you will learn that speaking more slowly will help you relax.
Practice slowing down your rate of speaking by adding pauses to your speech to aid this approach. The pauses can be at places in your presentation such as at the end of every slide.
Things will go wrong
This may be the last thing you want to hear but things will go wrong – you may forget a part of your speech, and the laptop may not boot for your digital presentation.
I have found it’s best to simply acknowledge the problem in a confident manner and continue on with the speech to the best of your ability. Although I have found that I have learned the most from these experiences. It helps you gain perspective, thing can go wrong but “The Show Must Go On“
Acceptance of the fear
All the approaches listed so far help manage the fear but a eureka moment for all speakers is when they accept the fear. When you accept you are fearful of speaking, you can begin to question the fear.
I am fearful of public speaking
I might forget my lines, i don’t want to appear stupid in front of the group, nobody wants to listen me etc.
Does it matter if i forget my lines, or look stupid, or if nobody wants to listen ??
Burn off nervous energy
Nervous energy before a presentation is normal but if it is affecting your performance it may be worth finding ways to reduce it.
One approach I have taken is to do a physical activity a few minutes before presenting such as shadow boxing.
Enjoying Presenting and it becomes a conversation
Eventually, after countless speeches you will get to the point where your confidence increases, your speaking rate slows down, the audience is enjoying your speech and you actually begin to enjoy it.
If you can begin to enjoy speaking, the fear will fade into the background.
You will stop public speaking and start to simply have public conversations.
There is no single approach that will help you overcome your fear of public speaking.
Although there are many different strategies that will help, you must find what works for you, and overcoming your fear of public speaking is an evolutionary process.
Enjoy the journey.
If you wish to learn more about overcoming the fear of public speaking there are a number of books available
This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my current employer.