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Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

overcoming fear of public speaking

The first step in overcoming fear of public speaking is understanding why you are anxious. Public speaking is a perennial favorite on the list of widespread phobias, chiefly because people fear making mistakes and looking foolish. However, there may be other reasons for your anxiety, such as:

The importance of the occasion itself. You’re honoring an important person and want to do right by them, or the speech presents a potential career opportunity.

The audience. You are especially worried about impressing them, or you find them incredibly intimidating. Mention something about peer audiences and the added anxiety.

The material. You aren’t sure of your grasp of the material, or you fear you’re not adequately prepared.

Many people think that overcoming fear of public speaking is hard to do, but there are many techniques that can be used to boost confidence and ensure that you never fear talking to anyone, be it two people or a group of ten thousand.

Overcoming fear of public speaking is all about confidence. If you believe in yourself, there is nothing that you would fear, let alone public speaking. There are many resources to help you build confidence, such as the Internet and specialized psychology publications. If you have incredibly low self-esteem, it would be best for you to attend public motivational speeches which are specially geared to help build confidence.

Even a confident person, however, may feel a certain degree of anxiety when facing a large group of people. In this case, it is perhaps best to try and make use of a range of relaxation techniques which are especially useful for relaxing during public speaking. These include things like using mental image stimuli to make you feel comfortable and forget, in a sense, that you are in a stressful situation, tensing and relaxing the muscles in your body, and making use of breathing techniques to aid the flow of oxygen to your brain which makes you think clearly and calms you down.

Once you have focused on the mental aspects of overcoming fear of public speaking, you can begin to concentrate on the physical factors which usually affect anxiety, such as shaking hands and limbs. By having your hands rested upon and hidden behind a podium, your hands are firmly set and prevent you from becoming even more anxious because of them. A podium also allows you to stand upright with something to rest upon slightly, so you can adjust you posture so that your knees do not quiver in anxiety, and even if they do there need be no fear that the audience will become aware of it since your entire body is obscured from view except for your face, neck and chest, which should be held up proudly to project the speech to your audience. Other physical factors should also be taken into consideration. For instance, if the room does not have sufficient air conditioning or ventilation then the speaker will become incredibly hot, and may in turn become self conscious because of perspiration and the smells that accompany it. These factors along with the uncomfortable feeling of wearing formal attire while in a humid environment adds to the feelings of anxiety and hinders the speaker from overcoming fear of public speaking. Thus it would be wise to either install sufficient ventilation mechanisms beforehand, or have water and a handkerchief ready so oppose the negative consequences of the heat.

Another effective method for overcoming fear of public speaking is to be well-prepared. This means practicing the entire public talk a few times with a private audience until you feel comfortable with it, and formulating the main points in a manner that allows them to be placed on cue cards which are easy to decipher. Fact verification and contactable referencing is also an efficient way to ensure that the speech is fully prepared and that you can be confident in the messages conveyed.

It is extraordinarily important to practice your speech in front of friends or associates, and it is equally important that they give you honest constructive criticisms, and that you be unafraid to listen. Think about it: this speech is giving you plenty of anxiety—concerns about content, delivery, and more. It’s likely that you’ve worked yourself into a kind of tunnel vision that prevents you from spotting obvious areas that need clean-up.

The best way to clear out these problems is also the most potentially painful and helpful—get feedback and be unafraid of it, be unafraid to regard it as any other step of the process of preparation.

 

More Fear of Public Speaking Articles:
Memorization Techniques
Relaxation Techniques
Stage Fright

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