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How can I get over my Fear of Public Speaking?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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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!

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By cafe41 — On Nov 13, 2010

SauteePan- I think it is important to put things in perspective. If you practice and know the speech well then you have to ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen.

Being able to think about this question logically often limits your fear because often our fears are irrational and the ideas that we have in our minds are unlikely to happen.

For example, if you have a fear of forgetting your words, you can simply practice until you memorize your speech and even have a small card available with your speech so that you won’t forget the words.

Sometimes our fears can be valuable and helps us to overcompensate for our fears by over preparing. This is what I usually do and it cuts down on my anxiety dramatically.

I find that after the event takes place, I usually am successful and it makes me wonder why I was afraid in the first place.

These experiences give you the confidence you need to give the great speeches that you want to give. Remember the fear of public speaking statistics that rates this as the number one fear that most people have should also put you at ease because you are not alone.

By SauteePan — On Nov 13, 2010

Oasis11-Overcoming the fear of public speaking is like any other phobia. Putting yourself in as many situations that require public speaking will lessen the impact of the phobia and little by little you will condition yourself to be in a public speaking setting with little or no anxiety.

This is a mechanism that many psychologists use to help a client cope with certain phobias.

For example, if you have a fear of spiders, the psychologist will first put you in a room with a spider and then place the tank closer and then make you pet the spider until you make the connection that nothing will happen to you if you pet the spider and you basically overcome the phobia.

By oasis11 — On Nov 13, 2010

GreenWeaver- Sometimes hypnotherapy is effective in learning how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

Deep relaxation and visualization techniques often help to put you at ease. Deep breathing allows your brain to receive the oxygen needed to calm you down.

The calmer you are the more clearly you can think and deliver your speech. Practicing is really important. If you have the speech memorized and you practice in front of mirror can also help you dramatically.

Arriving early to the location in which you are giving your speech, and dressing your best also help you psychologically to prepare.

One of the most important fears of public speaking tips is to visualize the audience nude. This allows you to see the audiences as vulnerable so that you do not feel like you are the only one that is vulnerable. These tips should show you how to conquer your fear of public speaking.

By GreenWeaver — On Nov 13, 2010

The fear of public speaking is really common. In order to conquer fear of public speaking it is a good idea to join Toastmasters International.

Toastmasters International is a public speaking organization that allows its members various opportunities to speak at the meetings.

They offer fear of public speaking tips and when you are part of a group the fear of public speaking anxiety usually goes away little by little when you realize how to cope with these feelings and you realize you are not alone in your fear of public speaking phobia.

Most of the meetings are weekly and they are really a lot of fun. People also share their fears and you really tend to feel better.

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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