One of the worst anxieties to control is the fear of public speaking. There are ways to beat this fear, however, and be successful.

I remember about a decade ago in college when I had to complete speech class. It was part of my prerequisites for my degree. Oh, I was terrified, and to make it worse, everyone’s speeches were filmed and analyzed. I already had a fear of public speaking beforehand, and whether or not this class helped me, I am still a bit jittery to this day.

Origins of the fear of public speaking

The fear of speaking in public, or Glossophobia, comes from many factors in one’s life. You can be afraid of the location, the audience or just yourself. If you’ve spoken to a large audience before and made large mistakes in your speech, you will be more prone to the fear.

If you are speaking in front of people you don’t particularly like, you will also be more prone to this phobia. You may also be unsure of your speaking skills even after giving many speeches and studying the topic over and over.

Confidence and self-esteem play the largest role in this fear because if you aren’t sure of yourself, you may be afraid of leaving a bad impression on the audience. Popular people, who aren’t shy, seem to have a much easier time talking to a group as well.

So, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why we are so afraid to speak publically, but one thing is for sure, we can overcome those fears in many ways.

Ways to beat the speech anxieties

There are ways to conquer your fears about public speaking. No, they’re not always immediate solutions, but they can help you see your task in a new way. That’s the key, actually, it’s about being able to confidently relay important information by seeing your position as speaker from another perspective, perhaps the audiences view or an improved self-view.

Here are a few science-backed techniques to help you conquer those public speaking fears:

1. Behavioral therapy

When you hear the words “behavioral therapy”, you may think only of mental illness. Yes, behavioral therapy is used to help those with depression, bipolar therapy, anxiety, and many other mental issues, but it can help everyday problems as well.

In truth, behavioral therapy can also be used by just about anybody who needs it. Sometimes those who suffer from occasional stressful situations can benefit from this type of therapy.

Some stressful situations include public speaking and other things related to presentations or events. With behavioral therapy or talk therapy, professionals can help you understand emotions that control fear during public speaking. In this way, the fear that manifests during public speaking can be eliminated.

Keep in mind, however, that this sort of therapy must be started with plenty of time for speech preparation. It’s not a quick fix.

2. Research, organize and plan

When thinking of public speaking, we may have thoughts of preparing a homework assignment. Truthfully, it’s not much different when it comes to preparations. One way to stop the jitters beforehand is to make sure you have everything under control, to begin with.

First, you must do the right research on your topic. If you understand what you’re presenting to the audience, it might not be as hard to talk about it. You must also organize your information well and design a plan for your speech. Never try to memorize your speech as some may have misinformed you in the past, rather have exquisite notes which reflect great research and organization.

3. Practice

So, it’s nearing the time of your presentation and you’re getting nervous again, well, keep practicing. When I say practice, I don’t mean memorize, as I spoke against earlier. I mean practice your movements, your expressions, and practice when to look at your notes and when to look into the audience.

Yes, you will need to make sure to look out into your audience because you care about your topic and how it is received. So, practice makes your speech much easier to relay to this audience, and makes you feel a bit more relaxed as well.

If you like, you can ask a few friends to stand in as your audience and gather feedback from them after you deliver your speech. This will help you understand what you did wrong and what you did right.

4. Know your environment

Before your speech, you will want to become familiar with your surroundings. In some cases, your public speaking will be in a location that you already frequent. This helps alone. The fear you have of public speaking can also be soothed if you have never entered the arena in which you will perform the speech. Here’s how you alleviate that fear as well.

If you’ve never been to the auditorium, event hall, or outside the stadium, you should take the time to visit these areas, especially around the podium where you will give your speech. Stand where you will stand and glance toward the audience. This helps you get a grasp on the size of the event and your responsibilities. Try this and take a few friends, again, to pose as your audience.

5. Choose a topic you know

Sometimes the fear of public speaking comes from being unfamiliar with the topic of the presentation. This is probably the worst thing you could encounter. It is never wise to go out onto a stage and try to talk about something alien to you, with just a few notes as a guide. You will be setting yourself up for failure before the program even begins.

If you have the liberty to choose a topic you already know, then do so. This helps you feel relaxed and confident knowing that the words you say are fact and there’s no danger of being humiliated.

If you don’t know much about your topic, you can still get ahead. A good while before the speech, take time to do extra research and learn the topic as if you’ve known all about it your whole life. Read everything you can get your hands on and even ask for help.

6. Use your own rituals

Sometimes, people have certain rituals they use before public speaking. There are many different types of rituals including empathy rituals, spiritual rituals, and even exertion rituals.

For example, some people find it easier to give a speech if they use an exertion ritual beforehand. They simply work themselves up with physical activity in order to pump up their energy levels. This is usually done by going for a hike or jog before getting ready for the presentation.

There are even mantra rituals which can be used by stating over and over about how confident you feel and how good you will do with the public speaking. And, of course, with spiritual rituals, you can pray or meditate before the big event. It is amazing how calming this is and how much pressure it takes from the performance.

If you have the fear of public speaking, just use the tips above, and any other tips that help you out, and you will notice a drastic difference in no time at all.

References:

  1. https://hbr.org

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