How to fight the fear of public speaking
Speaking in front of an audience, whether of three or three hundred people, is the chance to sell your business or service to potential customers or clients. However, one of the biggest obstacles that many business men and women face is the fear of public speaking. According to national surveys and research results, fear of public speaking (or ‘glossophobia’) ranks among the top dreads, surpassing the fear of heights, fear of spiders and even fear of death itself.
So what is it that makes the fear of public speaking so strong and how can we overcome the fear of speaking in public? Let’s take a look.
Why does 75% of population suffer from speech anxiety?
If it is painful enough to be rejected by just one person, imagine the pain we could experience when being rejected by a large group of people. Of course, our emotions range from being absolutely terrified to feeling very uncomfortable!
Our anxiety and fright before the speech, however, may be caused not by fear of public speaking per se’ but by the audience’s reaction to our performance. Or put simply, we are afraid that our nervousness will interfere with our ability to perform and we will end up embarrassing ourselves. Accepting our fear helps us to take proactive steps in addressing stage fright and letting the adrenaline rush work for you, not against you.
Ways to Transform the Public Speaking Fear into Excitement
The fear of public speaking should not turn into an obstacle to your professional and personal growth. If you are worried that fear may worsen instead of improve your presentation, here are 4 Practical Ways to transform it into unshakable confidence and excitement:
Such strong emotions as anxiety and fear trigger in your body very specific “fight or flight” response: your muscles tighten, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up and your breathing becomes shallow. While this physical reaction may be helpful in escaping danger it is hardly helpful during the presentation. However, since your breathing rate is directly connected to your emotional reaction, the fastest and easiest way to take your emotions under control and regain confidence is through deep breathing and concentrating on your speech.
Focusing on facts, not fears
Instead of focusing on irrational fears (e.g. mind going blank, audience getting bored) concentrate your thoughts on positive facts such as: “I have practiced my speech many times”, “I am an expert on this topic”. Focusing on positive facts and on what you can offer takes your thoughts away from irrational scenarios about what can go wrong.
Building your speech on clarity, not complexity
While it is often tempting to include as much useful information in your speech as possible, practice shows that this might not be a good idea. Organizing the speech or presentation around two three main points allows you to relax and not worry so much about running out of time or forgetting to mention something important to the listeners.
Finally, keep in mind that great public speaking skills are not an inborn talent. The majority of successful speakers have trained to perform through persistence, preparation and practice. The bottom line is that if you can speak in front of two friends, you can deliver a presentation in front of an audience.
If you want to learn more about the art of public speaking, read “Successful Public Speaking” written by Arina Nikitina.