Copyright 2006 Deborah Torres Patel
For many people the idea of speaking in public can be absolutely terrifying! And sociologists report that the fear of public speaking ranks even higher than the fear of death. Not to worry. Here are 12 surefire strategies to eliminate stage fright and the fear of public speaking.
1. Give up the idea of perfection ~ Most seasoned public speaking professionals will admit that mistakes have provided the largest opportunities for growth. So acknowledge your humanity and have the courage to be imperfect.
2. Replace disempowering beliefs with positive action ~ The famous American athlete Bob Richards said, You are what you think. You are what you go for. You are what you do! If you think you are incapable, you will be. Give yourself permission to take action even if you risk failure. When Bob Richards knocked down poles while vaulting his way to 1 bronze and 2 gold medals in 3 consecutive Olympics he didnt focus on the setbacks, he focused on going for gold and doing his best.
3. Know your topic and audience ~ Doing your homework and research will eliminate 75-80% of your fears. Most people are horrifically under-prepared when they get up to speak. Invest in your preparation and you will be richly rewarded.
4. Arm yourself with a relevant and expert presentation ~ Think of the absolute worst questions that you could ever be asked. Be prepared with answers to those questions and you will dramatically reduce mental stress and performance anxiety.
5. Practice aloud (even if its a 30 second introduction) ~ Most people make time to prepare a physical presentation or notes but don’t venture to practice out loud. When you put the presentation on its feet first, without an audience, you will naturally find yourself changing, refining and improving your content. Practice your entire presentation a bare minimum of 3 times before you speak to a group. The more you practice, the more you will boost your confidence.
6. Always warm up ~ Warming up your body and voice at the beginning of an important day or right before a presentation will release tension, open you up, and allow your natural expression to flow. A mere 5 minutes of stretching and 3 minutes of singing (even if it’s in the shower) will make you much more at ease.
7. Arrive early ~ One of the simplest things you can do to be calm and collected is to arrive very early. This gives you plenty of time to check and test equipment, get familiar with the environment, freshen up and mingle with your audience beforehand.
8. Visualize success while focusing on your breathing ~ If you feel your heart palpitating, simply focus on breathing deeply imagining yourself filling up with love on the inhale, and on the exhale, let go of any tension or stress. Then visualize being victorious just like an athlete prepares to win a competition. Breathe through the anxiety to channel nervous energy into excitement and enthusiasm.
9. Dont worry about what others are thinking ~ Remember people want you to be good. 99 times out of 100, audiences are on your side. If you start to feel yourself getting uneasy, make eye contact with the friendly faces in the audience for encouragement. Also an audience focused intention like ” to be of service or “to deliver extraordinary value” will help to alleviate angst because it gets the focus off you and onto others.
10. Hold microphones with your non-dominant hand ~ If you are given a microphone, hold it with your non-dominant hand so that you can gesture freely with the hand you normally write with. This will make you feel more comfortable physically.
11. Join Toastmasters, a speaking association, presentation skills training or acting class ~ These types of organizations can teach you very important skills affording you the opportunity to practice in a supportive environment with like-minded people. If you dont have the resources available to you, run your presentations by several family members, friends or colleagues you trust for constructive feedback.
12. Hire a presentation skills trainer or public speaking coach ~ If you have a very important presentation coming up or if your livelihood is connected at all to your communication or persuasion skills, get a professional coach. Top athletes would never enter a competition without the support of the best coach they can find. Engaging a specialist will put your performance on the fast track and ensure that you have a winning edge over your competitors.
Take action today with just 1 of these tips to reduce your fear of public speaking. Take action with all 12 surefire strategies and you can bet on overcoming your fear of public speaking forever!