Public Speaking


Fear of Public Speaking

Everyone Gets Nervous

It is natural to have a fear of public speaking. In fact, if you asked 100 people on the street what their biggest fear is, you would hear public speaking named more often than anything else. So if you're afraid of public speaking, relax--it's normal.

Overcoming Your Fear

First, remember that the audience wants you to succeed. People in the audience want a good speech; they want you to do well. They are in your corner. Second, don't be hard on yourself. You are likely your toughest critic. It's okay to make a mistake now and then or to mess up a word. It happens to everyone. The important thing is to stay relaxed and let yourself succeed. Beyond that, here are a few of the most common fears, and some tips on how to overcome them.

Fear Suggestion
I'll forget my lines Of course, prepare and practice beforehand. But if forgetfulness gets you, pause and take a breath. If it doesn't come to you, try repeating the prior thought or looking at your notes.
People will laugh at me The biggest key here is to laugh along with them. If you do something funny, that's great. Join in on the hummor. It lightens the atmosphere and can actually help you connect with your audience.
I'm boring Again, preparation is king. The easiest way to overcome a fear of having an uninteresting speech is to develop good material. Do the research and put time into preparation. Good material is the key to a good speech.
I can't answer questions If you take questions after your speech, don't feel like you have to answer them all. Take the question, pause to think about it, and if you have an answer, great. If not, let the audience know that you're not sure, but that you can get back to them with an answer.


The Pivotal Moment - Just Before You Begin

Even the most seasoned public speakers are likely to feel nervous in the hours and minutes leading up to the speech. Here are a few suggestions for relaxing in those stomach-churning moments:

  • Stretch
  • Take a walk
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Flip through a magazine
  • Have casual conversation with someone
  • Think about your plans for the weekend

Now let's look at some tips for different types of speeches.

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