If you have a fear of public speaking, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Many professionals and amateurs alike share that same fear, causing stress and anxiety at school or in the workplace. But there are several strategies that can get you over your fear of public speaking, and most of these strategies are easy and almost immediately effective. Surprisingly enough, most of these strategies are all in your head, too, just like your fear.
Let's face it: the biggest problem with public speaking is not the audience. It's you. You are nervous, you are anxious, you are shaking. Your audience is not. Right? If that's the case, that means the audience is not looking for you to fail -- it means YOU are looking for you to fail. Step one in getting over your fear of public speaking is understanding that you are your own worst enemy, and you are often too harsh on yourself. Be like the audience: expect success.
People with a fear of public speaking often cite a fear of looking or sounding like a fool in front of a group, either because they fear they might make a mistake, or they may not sound professional enough. If this sounds familiar, there are strategies to avoid making major mistakes, but first thing's first: you need to make yourself believe that your audience WANTS to hear what you have to say. They consider you an authority, and they're all looking at you not because they're waiting or you to make a fool of yourself, but because they're waiting for you to educate them. That's why it's you in front of the group and not them: you have knowledge that they do not, and they want to hear it from you. Remember: you are in charge. What you say goes. If you told the audience to stand up, they would do it because you are in the position of power.
But those nerves are pesky, and you might find yourself shaking before your presentation. What should you do? Find a private space and do a push-up or two, or maybe a jumping jack. Your body is building up adrenaline because of your nerves, so rather than taking that nervous energy to the stage, burn it off beforehand. Even squeezing and releasing a rubber ball or something else soft may help. It may not cure your fear of public speaking, but it will calm your nerves enough to keep you functioning.
Approach your speech or presentation from a "We're All In This Together" perspective: your audience is eager to learn, and you should be eager to educate. In other words, you and the audience are a team. The best way to do that is to come prepared. Organize your notes or your printed off speech -- which should be printed in extra large letters to make it easier to find your place when you look up to make eye contact with your audience -- and make sure you have written a meticulous speech. Maybe even try starting with a joke -- nothing too in-depth or off-color, of course, but maybe a humorous observation pertaining to your subject. If you come prepared and do your part, the team cannot fail.
The bottom line is, you may never get over your fear of public speaking, but that does not mean you can't be prepared and effective in front of a group. Remember that you are in charge and your expectations are always a lot higher than those of the audience. And finally, take solace in knowing if you make a mistake, 99% of the audience will not notice, and your life will still go on after the speech is over!