Business

How to overcome your fear of public speaking

Fear of public speaking is known as Glossophobia and ranks in the top ten of people’s greatest fears. In today’s world however, it is extremely difficult to avoid public speaking, whether it be presenting in front of top bosses in a meeting room, in front of a class in a seminar room or even in front of the entire school during assembly. This common public speaking phobia can restrict a person’s day-to-day life and cause a lot of distress. They may be afraid of speaking in front of others for fear of embarrassing themselves and feeling humiliated, so will try to avoid doing it at all costs. However, public speaking skills are vital in many people’s careers, so the sooner you learn how to tackle this fear, the quicker you’ll reduce your anxiety and phobia of public speaking. Below are some top tips to help you shine and bring out your confidence when public speaking, so you won’t be rushing for the nearest door anymore!  

Know your audience
A little bit of preparation will go a long way. Look into who you are presenting to, what age they are, their gender and ranking. Knowing whom you are facing will automatically quell that fear of the unknown, even if it’s just a little bit.  

Dress the part
Heard of the saying “dressed to impress?” It really does stand true when presenting to a room full of people. If you don’t look right through how you’ve dressed, your presentation will automatically have started on the backfoot.  

Be passionate
Your topic needs to appeal to the audience and relate to them. It needs to interest them, inform them, educate them, entertain them, persuade them and inspire them. If you’re speaking from the heart and talking about a subject you care about it, it doesn’t matter if you lose your way because you’ll be so fired up in wanting to share your story, you won’t be worrying about where you are in your notes.  

Use help
Unless you’re completely confident walking into a room unaided, it’s always useful to bring some prompts to help you with your speech. Whether it’s a handful of postcards, a flipchart or a PowerPoint presentation, have something that’ll guide you through what you’re trying to say.  

Remember the three R’s
Read your notes, reset your eyes on the audience and release your words. Try not to speak when you’re looking down at your prompts and definitely don’t speak when you’re looking behind the screen, as the audience won’t be able to hear you – even if you think you have a fairly loud voice!  

Keep notes to a minimum
When using notes and visual aids, it’s important to keep them as short and punchy as possible. The audience is not interested in long sentences on a screen – just simple charts, images, or if you really must, bulleted headlines – but keep these to a maximum of three to four bullets per headline.

For more information read: Stand, Speak, Deliver! How to survive and thrive in public speaking and presenting (Robinson) by Vaughan Evans