Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Have you ever experienced the feeling that the moment you stand up to speak in front, your heart starts pounding like crazy, your hands get all clammy and you seem to lose all train of thought? If so, then you are not alone. According to most studies, glossophobia or the fear of public speaking is the number one fear that most people have. Yes, people fear public speaking even more than they fear death!

 We all know that the most successful people, whether in business or any other field, are also the best communicators. And for this reason alone many people desire to become better speakers. But how does one eliminate the fear of public speaking?

The answer is that you don’t. I have been a Toastmaster for over two years now. I regularly give speeches during club meetings and I have joined numerous speaking contests. You’d think two years of speaking would have made the fear disappear, right? Wrong. You can’t totally eliminate your fear of public speaking. You can only conquer it. As someone once said, if you can’t get rid of the butterflies in your stomach, at least get them into flying formation.

So how do you conquer your fear of public speaking?

You can conquer your fear of public speaking the same way you would conquer any other fear. You have to face it. How? Speak in front of an audience – regularly. Or better yet, join Toastmasters. The more you speak in front the less you’ll find doing so “scary”.  Most people are afraid of the unknown. Once you get accustomed to speaking in front you’ll discover that it isn’t that bad after. In fact, public speaking can actually be enjoyable.

They say that preparation is the key to success. This applies to public speaking as well. Before you even think about speaking in front you should learn your material. You should know it so well that you can speak without having to think of what’s next.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – especially if it’s your first time to deliver a speech. We learn by doing. And we’ve all got to start somewhere. So don’t expect your first speech to be perfect. Practice and then deliver it as best as you can. The best thing about being part of a Toastmasters club is that you get evaluated every time you deliver a speech. Thus, you’ll know which things to improve to make your next speech even better.

The worst thing you can do is to disregard your fear and pretend that it doesn’t exist. No matter how much we try to avoid it there will come a time when we will have to stand up and speak in front. Personally I think it’s better to be prepared so that when that time comes, we will be able to speak with such eloquence and conviction that we can get our point across effectively. 

Do you want your speech to come to life? Read this post and learn about the power of Using Gestures in Public Speaking.

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