Hints on How to Lose the Fear of Public Speaking

Overcome your fear of public speaking with ANY audiencePublic speaking is a gift when it’s done correctly but you may need a few tips to achieve it.

Why are people so afraid to get up in front of an audience and give a speech?

Basically, people are afraid of being humiliated in front of others. Some may have negative experiences in the past, such as having been laughed at by the other kids in school when in front of the class. But, for most people, it’s the generalized fear that they are going to get up on stage and tank; that people won’t like them.

Now, many of the above are quite normal reactions. In fact, some experts say a mild level of anxiety is good before you give a speech as it gives you a burst of energy, resulting in a more dynamic presentation. But, if the fear of public speaking is such that it is keeping you from advancing in your career, or keeping you away from certain social situations, then it’s time for you to act.

The fear of public speaking can manifest itself in many ways:

  1. You get “butterflies” in your stomach.
  2. Your palms sweat.
  3. Your hands shake.
  4. Your knees also shake and you feel as if your legs are about to collapse.
  5. Your heart beats much faster than normal.
  6. You experience a “fainting” feeling.
  7. You have panicky thoughts.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Most people don’t want to hear this, but the best way to conquer a fear of public speaking is practice, practice, practice. Facing any fear head on allows us to control it, rather than let it control us. Our over-reactions to our fears is really our brains trying to protect us from what it perceives as a threatening situation. Feeling faint is a good way to keep us off a stage, saving us from
the threat of humiliation. But, the more we experience the “threatening” situation without the harm (humiliation), the more we’re able to extinguish that fear.

A good way to begin feeling comfortable presenting publicly is to start small. Start sharing stories with friends and co-workers. This could be something you read about in the news, or something you did over the weekend. The point is to practice speaking in front of others, and feeling successful at it.

If you have no problem speaking socially in front of friends, but shake at the thought of getting behind a podium and speaking in front of strangers, then practicing behind a podium is what you must do. Lucky for you there exists speaking clubs such as Toastmaster’s International, which meet weekly in cities all over the world. For a nominal fee, you can join a club in your area and practice speaking in public, as well as hearing speeches on a weekly basis. You will also receive feedback on your weaknesses as well as your strengths. You’ll probably be surprised to find out that you’re better than you thought you were.

But I’m too Afraid to Practice Public Speaking

For those whose anxiety level or social phobia is so great that they’re having extreme trouble getting into the practice phase, there is some hope for you as well. Psychotherapy as well as hypnosis has been used by people who need to learn ways of coping with fear of public speaking. With hypnosis, you can help desensitize yourself to your fear, as well as visualize success speaking before an audience. Hypnosis is also helpful with managing anxiety.

For extreme anxiety, there are also medications such as beta blockers which can provide some temporary relief; enough to possibly help you gain a positive speaking experience. If that don’t help imagien yourself play the scary maze game or what the Brady Bunch taught us about imagining your audience.

The point is, you don’t have to allow your fear to rule your life. For some, the ability to give a speech in public can mean closing a sale, getting a promotion, or charting a new career path. It would be a shame, with all the resources now available to help you conquer your fear, to allow that fear to win.

7 thoughts on “Hints on How to Lose the Fear of Public Speaking

  1. Hi Ken – going points. It’s such a shame that many people with something important to say just can’t do so. We often end up reminding people that public speaking is a *means* not an *end* in itself: it’s not about the presentation itself, it’s about the message *in* the presentation.

    Lets’ face it, unless you’re Bill Clinton or someone similar no one’s come along to hear YOU speak – they come along to hear what you’ve got to say…..

    Cheers…. Simon

  2. Hi Ken…i like it…..and i hope i can win this public speaking…well…i don’t know you but I’m sure your a nice guy^-^

    GOD BLESS YOU!!

  3. hi ken, if you have to make a public talk, you can do it easily with the help of INDERAL. or the generic is called propranalol. you take it about 30 minutes before the talk. the inderal is a similar molecular shape to adrenalin except it doesn’t cause a reaction and after you take it, it attaches to the adrenalin receptor sites in your body, so when you have to speak, your body releases the adrenalin and the inderal is already occupying the receptor sites so you heart doesn’t race and you stay nice and calm. it a showbusiness secret.

  4. Hey Ken! Another great article, you’re definetely a gifted writer, and after reading this article I’m sure you’re also an expert orator. Great tips! I’ll make sure to use them next time I have to speak in public! I don’t feel that nervious to speak in public, but I could use some practice :)

  5. I think joining a speaking club is an excellent idea. That’s one I had not thought of.

    Although I have done public speaking over the years, I don’t do it frequently enough that it becomes second nature. So I do wind up with some degree of anxiety and apprehension beforehand. But once I begin I am fine and usually wind up feeling at ease, depending on the audience and the circumstances. It does help, though, that I can reflect back upon times I have been successful with public speaking.

  6. Great and informative post.

    I have the same problem and no matter how much I practice in the end I still get nervous when it comes the time to actually go up there and speak.

    I guess the only way to get rid of it is to do it as often as you can and get used to it.

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