If you are here, you probably feel uncomfortable with many eyes on you. You probably want more confidence in many situations. Not only public speaking. There are many common misunderstandings about confidence. Everyone is waiting for you to present something not only interesting, but also presented without signs of nervousness and hesitation. You feel pressured to not mess up and worry how other people will perceive you.
How do you Overcome Fear of Public Speaking?
Public speaking is one of the most common fears because it can be uncomfortable to feel judged. When others judge us, it is stressful and that stress lowers our confidence and ability to express ourselves. If we could stop caring about the judgment, we wouldn’t be stressed out. A technique I sometimes use is to realize that giving a presentation to 1 person is the same as talking to 1000 people.
You could make some arguments about how the consequences could be different depending on who all those 1000 people are if you want to be a troll. However, It’s the same situation. You are the same person, sharing the same information. This helps some people relax a little. But it doesn’t help everyone, so I want to share some more advice on the subject too.
Look at your favorite speakers. They were probably very awkward when they started. But with practice, they improved and learned to relax in these situations. Public speaking triggers adrenaline, a pounding heart, sweating, stuttering and other signs of nervousness. Avoiding the opportunity to overcome your fears because of these uncomfortable symptoms robs you of an opportunity for growth.
Instead, realize how much better your life could be if you could overcome your fear of public speaking. That confidence could transfer to other social situations too. After all, if you don’t mind being judged by a thousand people, then it shouldn’t matter what one person you’ve just met thinks either.
How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking
Please don’t get annoyed when every source on overcoming fear of public speaking suggests you practice to improve. There is no magic pill to overcoming this fear. To get better at any skill you need to practice. The more prepared you are, the less afraid you should be.
Practice your presentation and understand every key point thoroughly. Practice in the mirror. You can also record your presentation and watch it to look for ways to improve your performance. If someone is willing, you can even give your presentation (at least part of it) in front of them and ask for honest feedback.
You can even practice your presentation in your mind while you are outside running errands.
2. Don’t Memorize Every Line Exactly
Public speaking doesn’t mean you need to memorize every line you’ve preparing. Write down a checklist of every key point you want to cover. That should be enough. Memorizing it exactly comes with the risk of completely forgetting everything that comes next if you forget just one line.
If you already know the subjects and points you want to cover, it really doesn’t matter what specific words you use to express them.
3. Avoid Talking Too Fast
This is a problem I often had when nervously giving speeches. You might need to remind yourself to slow down. It looks and sounds much more confident when you aren’t struggling to rush through every line.
Give yourself permission to slow down and pause to breathe. By speaking slower, the audience understands you much better and pays more attention. They need an occasional pause to think about what you are saying.
4. Make Eye Contact
Make eye contact with as many people as possible while giving your presentation. You aren’t speaking to the walls and ceiling, you are speaking to people. When you pay attention to people and make eye contact they listen to you more.
Professional speaker Dr. Steve Jones suggests you move around instead of standing in one, visually boring spot the entire time.
When you chat with your friends you probably stand or sit wherever you want. You probably move your hands and body in a comfortable way that just comes naturally to you when relaxed!
When people get nervous they often shut down as much body language as possible to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The ironic thing is, however, that by doing this, they actually draw attention to the fact they are displaying very nervous body language!
If you are feeling nervous when speaking publicly it can be a challenge to force yourself to move around. But you must try! Moving around will also help you relax. With practice, you should be able to move comfortably to express yourself. At first you might need to remind yourself to take a step to the side and show more body language. Give yourself permission to move around. You will be much more likable when your body language reflects a calm, confident inner state.
Public speaking skills and confidence can have a huge impact on your career and relationships. If you are afraid, then I hope these tips offer you help in overcoming your fears. Do you have any more tips for overcoming fear of public speaking? If yes then please share in the comments!