That moment of abject terror, all eyes on you. You can’t remember your name as you speak, your stomach wants to remove its contents, and the speech you wrote, prepped, planned, and practiced, won’t come out. If only you knew how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
As the famous judge, Sir George Jessel said,
“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops… until you stand up to speak in public.”
Here are some tips on how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Table of Contents
- How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (7 Tips)
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (7 Tips)
It’s the quickest way to forget your name, feel like your heart is trying to escape your chest, and turn so red people think you’ve been in the sun all day. And yet, public speaking is often one of the most powerful things you can master to further your career, earn potential income and feel happiness at work and even at home – after all, powerful communication is a skill that migrates to all areas of your life.
On the other hand, poor public speaking performance can make you look foolish and poorly informed, lose you a promotion on new business, or even cause the loss of respect from peers and colleagues. If you’re looking for ways to overcome your fear of public speaking, here are some tips that will help improve your communication skills.
1. Skill and Intelligence Get Results in Public Speaking
Alas, the downside to social media is that everyone has an opinion on everything. I’ve seen many posts saying;
- “Just go for it!”
- “Get out there and share your passion!”
- “Speak from your heart, and you can’t go wrong.”
Sorry but all of these are misleading. Lewis Hamilton (one of the greatest F1 racing drivers of all time) does not just jump in a car that goes over 200 miles per hour and drive on tracks wide enough for two cars against 18 of the fastest drivers worldwide on just passion and luck. Lewis trains every day. If you follow him on Instagram, you will see him often with his coach, his dog, and participating in various sports. He makes sure his mind, his body, his skillset, and training are at their peak at all times.
The same is true of public speaking. Speaking from the heart is why I see many people have fears with public speaking. They may have had experiences standing in front of an audience, and may have made mistakes, which resulted in never wanting to see a room of faces ever again.
As a leadership and mindset coach, I help clients boost their confidence and overcome hurdles, including public speaking. A client of mine was once told, “you are a natural!” only to make many avoidable mistakes that damaged their career. When this client came to me, their confidence was knocked, and their career was flagging to the point they were considering a new “easier” career. Taking them through my course, they were able to get back on track. They agreed to speak at their 4th international (and paid) gig.
So remember, passion will not drive exceptional performance, these steps will.
2. Have You Ever Felt Unheard Even in a Large Group?
It’s so frustrating knowing the answers and not being heard, right?
If you resign to accepting a fear of public speaking or not honing your skills, it has a far-reaching impact. I’ve seen clients hone their speaking skills and get a better deal on a new car or even get their boss to stop using them as the scapegoat!
Communication power is far-reaching, so remember why this matters. Make that desire so powerful you work 24/7 through any adversary. Be passionate and determined that these strategies get followed no matter what.
3. The Fear of Public Speaking Can Manifest in Many Ways
Facing your fear of public speaking is a different kind of battle. It’s not like some fears you can hide, like your fear of bugs or what people will think of you. This fear has physical manifestations that you need to deal with. This can be a restricted throat or the inability to breathe. So, before you worry about what to say, think about the elements related to your body’s reaction to the performance.
Ask Yourself: How Do You Want to Be Seen
Great speakers look comfortable. That’s because when you look scared, your audience feeds off of your fear. Practice standing in front of a mirror.
Think about what style works for you:
Try this exercise
: stand in the mirror and act scared and nervous. Round your shoulders, lower your chin and don’t make eye contact with yourself. Next, switch positions and look powerful, strong, and assertive. Stand as if there’s a rope going through your spine to the center of the earth and up through the sky.
Notice how different the two poses feel and how they impact breathing and everything else? Practicing in the mirror is a great way to see what the audience sees.
Ask Yourself: How Do You Want Your Audience to Feel?
What impact will your speech have? Do you want your audience to be energized and empowered? Calm and open to learning? Or be inspired and moved?
This impacts how you speak, including speed, tone, and volume. Practice just saying something like “blah, blah, blah” in sentences and see how you can vary the mood of your talk by just altering tone, volume, and speed.
Remember: Silence Is a Good Thing!
For someone facing a fear of public speaking, speaking fast is often inevitable. They try to fill every second with sound. When you can’t speak that fast, you end up with ums, ars, and ers. This can stop your audience from hearing you altogether as all they hear are random sounds.
Silence allows your audience the space to process what you are saying. Got something you really want your audience to hear? Leave a pause. As you rehearse, say your speech aloud because it will sound very different from the written word.
As speed, tone, and volume add value to your speech, a pause can also do wonders.
4. “I Don’t Know the Answer”
Attached to the fear of public speaking is often a lack of confidence and a fear of what people will think. To top it off, there is fear of looking uninformed.
Someone likely asked you to speak, so they want to hear from you. You’re not a robot or Google, so you aren’t supposed to know the answer to everything. When asked if speakers are expected to know the answer to every question, everyone agreed they weren’t. However, many said they fear being caught.
To overcome this, practice some simple phrases you can use when you’re caught off guard, like “That’s a great question, can I come back to you?” or “In our industry, these things change a lot. I’d like to check the up-to-date advice and email you if I may.”
It’s natural if you feel like a meltdown coming before your speaking engagement or after. In these cases, remember to stop and step away, take a breather, assess, tap into the power of feeling good, and acknowledge your great work.
5. Accept That You Are the Expert
Accept that you were asked to speak because you have the knowledge and expertise people want. Or that you have a way of words that can inspire and move others. You are the expert of choice, so accept that.
6. What You Think and What You Do
In my extensive experience, if I make a client’s actions for public speaking compelling enough, then fear shrinks. Don’t get too tied up or overthink it.
I included a short version of what to do and think from one of my lessons:
- Check the quality of your thoughts.
- Take time to craft your speech. Research.
- Most people remember the start of their speech, but not the middle. Imagine throwing your notes in the air, instant panic, right? Not if you’ve rehearsed the middle, the end, and the start.
- Read it out loud.
- Want to make it freaky powerful? Practice in the mirror. (You get used to having eyes on you, and as weird as it feels, it will build confidence too. It is a great way of sussing where the pauses for breath need to be too!
Whether face-to-face or virtual, have a glass of water nearby. If you get really perplexed, you can say, “Excuse me,” and sip your water. What you are doing is taking a moment to do the following;
- Calming down
- And think
“What would be a good question to pose to the audience?”
Even if your brain remains half empty, there are questions you could ask the audience to engage them and let them do some of the work.
7. Lastly, the Words.
When I train people on blogging for business, I take them through the same process that aligns beautifully with powerful communication. Here are some tips:
- Hook With the Headline: Power words need to be there that make the audience think, “Wow, I can’t wait to hear more!”
- Draw Them in With the Plan: Explain briefly what you will talk about and why and the outcome your audience will get – this is good for them and you.
- Ditch the Jargon: You are the expert, so you don’t need to prove it with big words – all you do is alienate your audience.
- Talk in Your Style: Don’t add icebreakers or jokes if that’s not your style. Remember the body language and your voice, what works for you? What is your natural style? People are quick to connect with honest, transparent people.
- Keep Your Key Points to a Minimum: People try and cram in too much. It is better to say 3 things powerfully than 6 things poorly. If in doubt, write all 6 things down and decide which to ditch.
- Close With Power: Have you covered what you promised? What do you want your audience to remember or do? Keep it simple and remember you are the expert. 
Do all these, and before you know it, you’ll overcome the fear of public speaking in no time.
Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
Any fear left unchecked will work deeper into your mind and hold more power over you. You really can overcome this fear and be an amazing speaker, I believe in you, so now you need to too.
Of course, once you learn how to overcome the fear of public speaking, you have to create your speech, including every little detail about it. Each speaker may have his own style and outline. Be it starting with content, knowing your audience, researching, or watching from experts first, there’s no real step to it. You can follow a guided step here.
Few things are more powerful than being able to communicate with power, and soon you’ll overcome your fear of public speaking.
Featured photo credit: Kane Reinholdtsen via unsplash.com