The fear of public speaking, or speech anxiety, is regarded as the number one fear for most people. There is something unnerving about standing in front of a group of people and delivering a speech, effectively and confidently. The idea of something going wrong and being ridiculed or judged just terrifies most people so they generally stay away from it. Sadly, by doing so this can keep them away from getting ahead in their careers.
Even those who are considered to be the best keynote speaker have experienced the occasional stage fright or butterflies in the stomach sensation. “It took me at least two years until my stomach didn’t cramp up before every talk I gave,” says Dan Smith. “I truly had to address some issues I had in lack of self-confidence until I could get up in front of a crowd without wanting to throw up.”
Here are some simple public speaking tips to help you overcome speech anxiety and become a better public speaker.
Causes of Fear of Public Speaking
Understanding the causes of stage fright or speech anxiety can help nervous speakers manage the stress of public speaking. One of the main causes is the lack of skill. “As cheesy as it may sound, it all does come down to putting the time in and practicing the skill,” says John Rogan, a motivational speaker with 15 years experience. “Talking to people in a large crowd environment is akin to a live performance and there are many factors that come into play such as your tone of voice, pitch, delivery, knowing your subject matter, timing, and much more.”
Not knowing how to deliver an effective presentation is usually why most speakers suffer from speech anxiety. Other possible reasons could be past failed attempts at public speaking, the thought of being the center of attention or the presentation situation, such as an evaluation.
Manage Speech Anxiety by Preparing for a Speech or Presentation
Since lack of skill is probably the most common cause of stage fright, the best way for anxious speakers to deal with it is to prepare thoroughly. Here are some preparation tips for a nervous speaker.
- Organize and research the material for the speech completely.
- Have the speech or presentation completely ready well in advance.
- Proofread and edit for errors and clarity.
- Get used to operating any presentation-related equipment, such as a projector.
- Nervous public speakers will also benefit from getting a good night’s sleep before the big day.
Develop the Art of Public Speaking With Practice and Rehearsals
Practice makes perfect. This is truer of public speaking than of anything else. Here are a few practice tips that nervous public speakers can use to manage speech anxiety.
- Once the speech or presentation is ready, spend adequate time rehearsing it alone and in front of friends or family members.
- Make a recording of the rehearsals and watch them identify areas of improvement.
- Take feedback and work on it.
- Include time in the practice sessions to make that the speech or presentation is in the right order, formatted properly and any equipment that will be used is in working condition.
Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking by Positive Thinking and Visualization
The fear of public speaking, like most fears, is related to the mind. Therefore, thinking positively by replacing negative or self-defeating thoughts, and visualizing the successful speech, can help a nervous public speaker. According to this article on Public Speaking Anxiety by UW, Stout, during the presentation, one can view the audience as allies rather than blocking them out. Visualization and positive thinking can play a big role in helping one to become a better public speaker.
Fear of public speaking can be a hindrance in professional and educational endeavors and therefore, it is important to face the fear and start by taking small but definite steps to overcome and manage speech anxiety. Begin by using these simple public speaking tips and work towards becoming a confident and effective public speaker.
Ashley Thompson is an entrepreneur and consultant who works with many experts on helping them overcome their fear of public speaking.