Does your heart start racing when you’ve been asked to stand in front of a group of people and say a few words? Do you feel your breath become heavy and your palms sweaty the moment everyone’s attention is fixated on you? Well, you have a case of glossophobia, otherwise known as the fear of public speaking. Not to worry though, as it’s a completely natural condition that many people across the world struggle with. If you’d like to know how to keep yours at bay then please read on as we unravel useful pointers on overcoming the fear of public speaking.
1) Keep your eyes on your friends during the first moments
Often the fear of speaking to crowds arises from the fear of curious eyes from strangers. If you have a friend or two in the audience, you can use his/her familiarity to give you the confidence you need to push on. Focus on your friends, who should preferably seat in the front row, so that your public speech feels like you’re casual talking to people you know. This way you can take out the seriousness of the whole affair and get the hang of things before gradually turning your attention to other people in the room.
2) Interact with the audience
A monologue presentation puts all the spotlight on you and you can easily crack under the weight of expectation. You can share this attention with the audience to lighten the load which you can do by asking questions and seeking other people’s input. Doing so will also afford you enough time to recollect your thoughts if things aren’t going according to plan. You need to be careful on the questions you ask, as you do not want to change the direction of your speech. You can even ask rhetorical questions, leading to a pause after the questions, so you can collect more thoughts.
3) Take some time to relax
The moment right before getting on stage can be a pretty nerve-wracking time filled with anxiety and uncertainty. That period can set you up for a torrid time in front of the audience and it’s best you try and relax and keep your mind focused on something else. Once you have your speech mastered, take a few minutes to unwind with a mobile game, some quiet meditation, a quick phone call from your spouse for support, or anything else that normally gives you peace of mind when you’re stressed out.
4) Practice makes perfect
Perhaps the best way to overcoming fear of public speaking is by thorough preparation. Quite literally getting lost for words will shove you into a corner of helplessness that you might not be able to get out of. To ensure that doesn’t happen, rehearse until you know your material like the back of your hand. This will give you an extra boost in confidence to take on anyone. This practice should start weeks, even months before if you have a big speech. Know you material, practice in front of you spouse, your friends, even your dog, just get some eyes in front of you, watching you. Do not worry about criticism, especially from people who do not do public speaking themselves. If you are looking for criticism, joining a public speaking class, and get criticism from those that are on the same path as you, and from experts in the public speaking area.
5) Implore the mirror technique
Another strategy that many great speakers of our time have attested to using is the mirror’ technique where you first rehearse your speech standing in front of a mirror. This way, you can get a feel of your gestures and see what you’re doing wrong in that regard. Your body language says just as much as your words do and a mirror or a video recording can help you get rid of bad habits you’re inadvertently doing.
Overcoming fear of public speaking is a process like how a baby learns to walk. Start with small steps- e.g. inviting a few friends over to practice on before gradually working your way up to mammoth crowds. Remember the friends in the audience idea, interact with the audience, relax before your speech, practice and watch yourself in the mirror when practicing. Keep this, and all the other tips herein, in mind and you should be just fine.
To your public speaking success,
Overcome Fear of Public Speaking