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4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking ranks extremely high for most people.  Experts say that it is feared even more than death!  It’s easy to assume that you are not very good at it when, in fact, the problem is caused less by your ability to speak and more by your fear of speaking.  Once you break that barrier of fear, you may find out that you’re pretty darn good at it.  Not only that, you might even love it!  As someone who broke that very barrier, I understand this fear intimately.  Here are three steps to get you started in your journey.

Write down at least one way that this fear is limiting your life.

What is this fear stopping you from doing? If you can figure this out, then your motivation for overcoming it will increase.  Is the fear preventing you from speaking up in meetings or in the class room? Do you feel awkward at social gatherings? Do you choose your courses at school based on whether or not there are presentations to do? I sure did! All of that applied to me. I got sick of being afraid.  Everyone else seemed to be having so much more fun doing things that made my stomach churn knots.

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Join a speaking group.

Probably the most popular group is Toastmasters International.  It is a wonderful environment full of encouragement.  Sure it’s nerve-wracking! Sure your palms will get sweaty! Heck, I even cried during my first speech!  I completed the Competent Communicator Award which entails doing 10 very specific types of speeches.  The order of the speeches was well thought out.  The first one is just about introducing yourself to the group.  By the time you get to the last one, you are using effective gestures and visual aids. You might have even entered a contest or two by then!  I can’t tell you how liberating it felt to finally break that barrier.  I enjoy  public speaking more than I ever thought possible.  No, it didn’t turn me into an extrovert, but my inner world was finally ready to be shown to the outer world.  Should you decide you want to take speaking to a deeper level, there are many options for growth at Toastmasters.

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Acknowledge your fearful feelings.

Realize that you are afraid because you care.  It’s OK to have butterflies.  It’s OK to have sweaty palms.  You respect the task at hand and you care about doing a good job.  That’s great!  People can feel that you care.  They can also tell if you don’t care.  When you do care, people want to hear what you have to say.  I honestly used to think that people didn’t want to hear what I had to say, so I would rush through my speech.  I learned that I had valuable information to share that people wanted to hear! Once you truly believe that what you have to share has value, your speaking will improve dramatically.  The more practice you have with public speaking, the better you will become at controlling those fearful feelings.  You’ll be able to use them in a more positive, productive manner that will actually fuel you.

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Talk about what you know.

When you truly understand a topic, it is easier to focus on getting the idea across rather than trying to remember something word for word.  Being able to ad-lib gives you some freedom with your words.  This also lowers your anxiety.  If you must talk about something out of your comfort zone, research your topic well.  Try to relate it to something in your life so it becomes easier to talk about.

Public speaking is a skill that can be learned.  It can also be forgotten, just like other types of skills.  Once you break that barrier, keep yourself tuned up by either continuing with your speaking group or actively seeking out reasons to speak in public.

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Jennifer Wasylenko

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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