The idea of standing in front of a crowded room and delivering a work presentation or giving a speech at your loved one’s wedding can be daunting for some. The racing heart, sweaty palms, and the fear of judgment are all symptoms of public speaking anxiety and can happen to the best of us, even those at the top.
So, how can you stand confidently in front of an audience and deliver a speech without feeling paralysed? In this article, we’ll explore and outline practical strategies to captivate your audience and convey your ideas with confidence.
Why are people afraid of public speaking?
The fear of public speaking, known as glossophobia, is a common form of social anxiety disorder characterised by an intense and often irrational fear of speaking in front of an audience. It's more than just typical nervousness; it's an intense, and sometimes irrational fear, that can occur when faced with speaking in front of an audience, and often includes symptoms such as uncontrollable trembling, sweating, and a racing heartbeat.
If you find that this fear has a tendency to get in the way of your public speaking, we have good news for you: you don’t have to overcome your fear of public speaking to be a good public speaker. In fact, it will never go away completely, but rather, have less of that fear.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
Like many of life’s challenges, a good amount of practice and patience is key to overcoming your fear of public speaking. We’ve condensed our top tips into the SPEAK model to help you build confidence and confront the fear head-on:
S - Start with self-reflection:
Take a moment to understand your fear and what aspects trigger your anxiety. Is it the fear of making mistakes, concerns about how others perceive you, or the pressure of being in the spotlight? Identifying and understanding these triggers is the first step towards overcoming them. Read this article to find out how to spot the triggers that set you off.
P - Prepare and practice
Now that you’ve identified your triggers, the next step is all about preparation - what can you prepare to manage those triggers? For some, thoroughly researching and understanding the subject helps to speak with authority and confidence, while some regularly practice to build familiarity with the content. These methods not only enhance delivery, but also instil a sense of preparedness and security, and in turn, reduce anxiety.
E - Expect imperfection
Perfection is an unrealistic goal and will further enhance your anxiety. To overcome your fear of public speaking, embracing imperfection by celebrating your improvements and continuously seeking learning opportunities will help you go a long way. Whether it’s having a few awkward pauses or occasionally stumbling over your words, these are chances to help you grow into a more confident public speaker!
A - Always be yourself
While maintaining a professional demeanour, always remember to be your authentic self. Imitating others’ presentation styles can make you appear unnatural and insincere, so choose words, phrases, and gestures that come more naturally to you. Once you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’ll feel more comfortable being yourself in every aspect of your life.
K - Keep your focus
If you’re feeling self-conscious before your presentation, shift that focus from self-consciousness to your purpose for being there. Whether it is a sales pitch, an internal presentation, or reporting numbers, remember that your audience is there to gain insights and information. This shift in focus may help you get out of your head and focus on accomplishing your public speaking task instead of your self-awareness and anxiety.
The journey to overcoming the fear of public speaking may not be a fast one, but is a transformative one that requires self-awareness, understanding, and strategic implementation. Remember, it's perfectly normal to feel nervous, but with dedication and practice, you can transform that fear into confidence and become an impactful speaker.
Interested in mastering the art of public speaking from a professional public speaker? Register for the upcoming 'Making a Lasting Impact Through Public Speaking' webinar where Natalie Kniese will share her top tips and tricks on becoming a better public speaker. Don’t miss out!