“Don’t Make me Speak in Public:” Strategies to Tackle your Fear
By Lauren Fattlar
Edited by Katy Randolph
As a public speaking instructor, I have become increasingly aware of the importance in teaching the skills needed to speak in front of a group. One of the common themes I see in my students is the overall nervousness and anxiety that public speaking gives them.
According to statistics, my students are not unique. Approximately 75 percent of people have the same fear. Glossophobia or the fear of public speaking is the single most common phobia. We live in a society where communication is the backbone, and it is important to find ways to ease the tensions of public speaking anxiety. The significance of communication will never fade because it allows us to form connections with our peers, influence decisions and motivate change. Communication skills are vital in both the professional and personal aspects of out lives. There is no doubt that, at some point, you will have to give a speech. It could be a report at a business meeting, a job interview, or maybe you’re the interviewer. Whatever it may be, knowing the skills and techniques to conquer speech anxiety can dramatically boost your confidence and increase your ability to speak in public. Here are 5 tips that I tell my students to help manage speech anxiety:
- Prepare: Nothing in worse than going into something “with a blind eye.” It is important to prepare for your speech. Preparation should include knowing your topic and audience. Knowing your topic will help you know the exact points you wish to make. Knowing the audience is important because it will help you determine the appropriate tone to use; you speak differently to a group of professionals than you do to a group of friends.
- Practice:– “Practice makes perfect.” It is easy to tell if someone practiced. Your delivery and thoughts will flow much easier.
- Positive Self-Talk:– Tell yourself that “you can do it.” It is important not to speak negatively about yourself. Feeling nervous is okay but, transform those nerves into confidence with positive thoughts.
- Take care of yourself: Don’t forget about doing all the normal things before the day of your speech. Getting enough sleep the night before, eating a good breakfast and taking deep breaths will help keep you cool, calm and collected.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Don’t worry that you might sway your arms too much or say “um” a lot. Just focus on the first four steps and stay relaxed. The more you obsess over a small part of the speech, the more nervous you’ll be to give it.