5 Ways to Overcome your Fear of Public Speaking

'Feel the fear and do it anyway' - Susan Jeffers

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There are so many fears that people have in our society and yet there is so much extensive research that makes it really clear that the fear of public speaking (also known as Glossophobia) seems to linger at the top list of the list.

Perhaps you can relate, if you have ever felt fear or anxiety when you are about to give a live presentation at work or if you have ever dreaded speaking on stage at an event, then you know too well that this fear is definitely real whether it comes in a subtle manner or full-on discomfort.

If you have wondered why some people fear public speaking? Any why does fear often prevent people from getting on stage and sharing their voice? In comparison, you may have also wondered why is it that some people feel confident, fearless and bold on stage?

Many of the fears arise due to some of these examples the fear of messing up your speech, self-consciousness, feeling unprepared, the fear of judgment, lack of experience, the fear of failure, the fear of success and the list goes on. Having had years of experience of speaking and performing on several stages in the UK and in different countries (from small events to international conferences) in front of dozens of people to thousands, I’ll share some of the best ways to manage, overcome or reduce your fear of public speaking so that you can nail your speech, shine on stage and wow the crowd.

Prepare Ahead of Time:

One of the things that causes anxiety around speaking is a lack of organisation, this could be anything from running late to the event or not knowing what time you’ll be giving your presentation. One of the ways to conquer this is to ask questions and know the schedule ahead of time. Ask the organiser questions like these: ‘what time do I need to be at the event? ‘Is there parking?’, ‘Would you like me to arrive early?’, ‘Can I bring my own photographer?’ etc. Ask these questions weeks or a days before your upcoming presentation so that you can plan effectively and show up as the best version of you, reduce your nerves and deliver a great presentation.

Work on your Presentation Skills:
One of the ways that I love preparing for speaking gigs is to get my slides ready or my notes prepared ahead of time. Then I take the next step which is to practice, practice, practice. I often rehearse my presentation in front of a family member, in front of my mirror, or in the living room. Practice is truly the key and practice truly does make perfect so don’t ignore this step. Don’t wing it as there is nothing more nerve-racking then not knowing what you are going to say on stage (especially if you have a big audience that will be attending). Even if you are a great speaker that’s used to speaking for a living it’s still a great idea to prepare a few notes so that you don’t get rusty or mess up your speech.

 “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” 
– Sara Blakely

Get your Outfit Ready in Advance:

One of the most exciting and stress relieving ways to overcome your fear of public speaking is to focus on some of the fun aspects of speaking, for instance focusing on what you are going to wear. You can either go shopping and buy a couple of new outfits or look in your wardrobe and figure out what you’d like to wear for your next speaking event. I usually like to wear a dress, a suit jacket and shoes when speaking. You can also look at what’s in your wardrobe and try on outfits. Wear colours that bring out your eyes, skin tone and hair. Colours that make you feel bright and cheerful but also remember to ask the host if there is a dress code so you meet their expectation.

Try Not to Think the Worst:

Avoid painting the worst case scenario in your mind as the chances of everything going terribly wrong are slim. There is a good chance that your speech will go well and all will turn out beautifully (especially if you work through the steps above to ensure that you are full prepared to deliver a great speech) and even if things do go wrong i.e. Your mic suddenly stops working, you forget your notes simply go with the flow, improvise and be spontaneous. I was once singing on stage at a TV award show and I completely dropped on stage, I was completely embarrassed for a moment but then I got back up, laughed it off and kept performing, I have also messed up my speech when presenting at a conference and no one realised as I just improvised and kept going. Don’t give up. Simply push through.

“Instead of worrying what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accmplish something they will admire”

— Dale Carnegie

Learn from Great Speakers:

Learning from the greats is a wonderful way to feel more relaxed about speaking, it’s also a great confidence booster. Listen to powerful leaders who have given great speeches on stage and say to yourself ’If she can do it, then so can I’. I love watching speakers such as Marie Forleo, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, Brian Tracy on stage as they make me see a bigger vision of what I can achieve. Seeing great speakers can encourage you to believe that if they can speak in front of hundreds or thousands then you can totally nail your speech in front of a group of 20 women, or 50 executives – you’ve got this.

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