Tips and Techniques to Minimize Your Public Speaking Fear
“I hate public speaking!” a potential client announced. “Yet, I have to do it because of my job.”
“Tell me why you hate it.” I was curious.
“I’m afraid I’m going to forget what I’m going to say. I’m afraid I’m going to look foolish – like I’m not the person who should be delivering this information.”
Can you relate? There has probably been a time when we all have felt uncomfortable, or like an “imposter” when we have spoken to a group of people. And we have all heard that public speaking is the number one fear for most people.
I think the real fear of public speaking stems from fear of the unknown: what the audience is thinking about you and your presentation, who is in the audience, the environment you are speaking in, and the “what ifs” around something going wrong. I don’t think that speech anxiety ever goes away entirely, however, there are techniques that can help minimize your fear.
- Reconsider how you think about your presentation. If your thoughts are solely on yourself and your performance, you are putting more pressure on yourself and increasing your anxiety levels. Take a deep breath and focus on serving your audience. When you focus outward on meeting the needs of the audience you are presenting to, it lowers your self-consciousness and consequently lowers your nervousness.
- Find out as much about the audience before your presentation. Ask the program planner about your audience – what they would like to know about your topic. Ask the program planner if you can interview several audience members before your presentation so that you really understand their needs.
On the day of your presentation, get to your venue early, so you can set up and then mingle with audience members. It not only thrills the audience to have met you before you speak to them, you now have friends in the audience who will be your biggest supporters. This reduces the fear about who is in your audience and what they want to hear from you.
- Rehearse your presentation until you can deliver it while doing something else. When you know your content well enough to multitask while delivering it, it’s a sign that you won’t get derailed when you are in front of an audience. Sadly, many speakers spend far too much time crafting their presentation, and very little time rehearsing it. Knowing your speech inside and out can pull you through when technology or other “what ifs” come up. It also demonstrates to your audience your professionalism – that you know what you are speaking about.
There are other techniques that can help reduce speaking anxiety such as breathing, visualization, and physical activity, to name a few. For most of my clients, a cognitive approach with reframing the event, connecting to audience members prior to the event, and adequate rehearsal tends to make public speaking not so spooky, after all!
Are you interested in learning more about diminishing your speaking anxiety? Click here to download my FREE report “7 Tips to Engaging Presentations.”