Presentation or Public speaking is an innate fear that everyone has to face at least once in their life. For some, it can be simply a dislike of giving presentations. Other may have a full-on speech phobia which can be debilitating and debilitating to one’s career. The biggest question I get asked is how do I control my fear and make it work for me. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown so you can follow the same process of How I Control My Fear Of Public Speaking & Make It Work For Me
I have a fear of public speaking but I don’t let it stop me from doing what I love.
The fact is, we allow our minds to tell us what is real and what isn’t. We allow our minds to tell us how safe we are in any given environment, and then we act accordingly.
Sure, there may be some things that are objectively scary, like jumping off a building or going into a dark alley alone. But when it’s something that doesn’t actually threaten your safety at the moment, the fear you feel is entirely subjective.
I remember being terrified of speaking in front of my own classmates in high school. I would get up in front of my class to give presentations and I would stumble over my words as I looked down at the floor shaking like a leaf.
Public Speaking is not something that you master, it is something you keep learning about.
Speaking in Public is a skill. And like any other skill, you can develop it with training, practice, and lots of feedback from your audience. Even if you have been speaking for years, consider seeing each speech as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and about your audience.
Focus on a single point that you want to deliver during your time on stage. If you try to speak about too many ideas or concepts at once, your speech will come across as scattered and incoherent.
Before drafting the content of your talk, think hard about what single idea you want to communicate during those minutes in front of the room. This point could be relatively simple–“recycle more” or “feed your family healthier food”–or more complex: “why advertising appeals to basic emotions” or “how digital cameras are changing the art world.”
In addition to lessening fear by making preparation a habit, write down all ideas as they occur to you in a notebook dedicated entirely to public speaking topics. Create a habit of carrying this notebook with you at all times so that when inspiration or curiosity strikes (on the bus, over lunch) you will have somewhere safe to capture these thoughts without forgetting them later in the day.
As these thoughts accumulate into enough material for presentations weeks and months down the line, going over them will become part of your everyday routine rather than something reserved only for preparing for talks immediately approaching on the calendar.
I didn’t start out being comfortable on stage — public speaking was a skill that I developed over time.
To be clear, I don’t mean that I didn’t ever feel nervous when speaking. But rather, I learned to control my fear (rather than it controlling me), and use it to my advantage. There are three main things that helped me gain confidence and comfort when on stage:
- Presence of mind
My desire to become a better public speaker outweighed my fear of speaking publicly at first.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you want to become a better public speaker. You might be feeling overwhelmed and fearful, or perhaps you’re like me and simply see the value of improving as a public speaker. Either way, your initial desire to improve at speaking will always be stronger than your fear of doing it.
I still struggle with speaking in front of groups of people. Even though I’ve spoken publicly on many occasions since my first speech in high school, I still feel nervous before big talks. The more important the event is, the more afraid I am that I’ll mess something up or forget what to say.
Ultimately though, my desire to get better as a speaker always outweighs my fear of speaking itself. As long as your desire is stronger than your fear, you can overcome anything.
You will feel your fear and keep going anyway — and have fun doing it!
You will feel your fear and keep going anyway — and have fun doing it!
This is scary but I can do it.
It’s okay to be scared because that means you care about what you’re doing.
And here’s the best thing: when you do something despite being scared, it gets easier. And then fun!
I carried a copy of this quote with me every day for two years after I heard it: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” It was on a ring, so I could take it off my finger and hold it when the anxiety was intense, reminding myself that if I wanted to achieve anything meaningful in my life, this was the way to go.
Public speaking is actually more natural than we all believe!
When you think about it, public speaking is actually more natural than most of us believe.
You may be wondering why I think that way, especially when you look at the majority of people who have this kind of fear – myself included. To start with, there are many animals in existence that don’t speak but can still express themselves in different ways. These creatures are either mute or only able to make sounds that lack meaning to other animals like them.
Humans, on the other hand, have a voice and they use it to express themselves and communicate their emotions, thoughts, and ideas with others. Public speaking is an activity that humans have been doing for thousands of years so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it too!
The secret to having fun on stage is knowing how to control both your energy and your audience’s energy.
The secret to having fun on stage is knowing how to control both your energy and your audience’s energy. As the star of the show, you are responsible for setting the tone. The more energy you put out, the more energy you get back.
Your audience will feed off of your energy: they can tell when you are nervous and they will mirror that emotion back to you, or they can sense when you are enjoying yourself and share in that feeling with you. You may not be able to make them laugh when it isn’t funny, but if there is something worth laughing at then genuine laughter follows.
Controlling your own energy allows you to control your audience’s energy which gives a speaker the power to be commanding on stage. I enjoy being in charge of a room full of strangers because it allows me to be creative without fear.
Learning how to deal with nerves is an important part of being a successful speaker.
First and foremost, acknowledge that as a speaker, you are in control. Your performance is capable of moving and motivating your audience to action, so harness the power that comes with this knowledge. At the risk of sounding trite: believe in yourself.
Remember that public speaking is a skill—not an inborn talent—and your preparation can go a long way towards reducing or even eliminating any fear you may be feeling.
Second, recognize that dealing with nerves is all part of being a successful speaker. I’ve been presenting for over ten years now and I still get nervous before some talks: it’s normal! If you find yourself getting too worked up about your nerves, however, turn them into excitement instead. It’s all about how you frame it!
Having the right preparation is key to controlling the jitters.
To help prevent my fear of public speaking from completely wrecking my day, I’ve chosen to practice different approaches over and over again. Duly warned, prepare your own plan on how you can make sure no matter what the situation you will be the best speaker possible.
- Presentation: Practice every day in front of a mirror. It’s impossible to know when they (your audience) will turn off and get bored, but it is crucial that you are aware of when this occurs so that there is no confusion or frustration for the audience. Prepare two presentations in total; one should be warm up before getting into the main speech, and another should be for what you want your audience to take away from your speech.
- Public speaking: Take a class! Some might say that public speaking is no big deal, but it actually takes considerable practice to ensure that you have enough confidence before going on stage.
Practice, practice, practice!
- Practice in front of a mirror.
- Practice by filming yourself.
- Practice with friends.
- Record your practice sessions and practice with the recording.
- Practice in front of a friend.
- Practice in front of your family.
- Practice in front of a trusted colleague.
- Practice in front of a pet.
Everybody can learn how to be comfortable on stage!
If you are just starting your Public Speaking Journey, don’t be intimidated. Be glad of the opportunity to practice your craft and to have an audience that wants to listen to what you have to say.
You can throw down any fears about failing or being bad at it. Whatever happens on stage is perfect because it’s in the moment, and that’s what makes live performance so special.
In conclusion, I am not afraid of public speaking anymore! I’m actually looking forward to my next speech.