Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
Giving a speech causes anxiety in a lot of people. While standing in front of all those people who are focused on your every word, you may develop uncomfortable symptoms, such as flushing, shaking, sweating, and a shaky voice. It becomes torture to make it through the speech thinking everyone in the audience has noticed the wetness beneath your arms, the redness of your face, or the word you just tripped over. Believe it or not, you can overcome this phobia and give a speech with confidence.
How a Fear of Public Speaking Can Benefit You
Though you may fear being judged or become so self-conscious that you get anxious and suffer a full-blown panic attack, a small amount of nervousness or anxiety is normal and can actually help you perform better. People who have a public speaking phobia are often perfectionists who fear messing up and being humiliated. Unfortunately, that fear can become so strong that people make excuses or even change jobs to avoid having to give a speech.
Ways You Have Reinforced Your Fear
- Expecting perfection – Nobody’s perfect. Your voice may quiver, you may stumble over a word, and you may forget what you were going to say, but this does not mean you have failed. Keep going.
- Associating your ability to speak in public with your self-worth – If your job requires you to give speeches, you have already proven that you’re capable of doing so, otherwise, the company would not have hired you. Beyond that, speaking in public is not the only measure of your abilities. You can be a successful person even if you aren’t a strong public speaker.
- Being nervous about your nervousness – Even famous actors and singers suffer from stage fright. Don’t get stressed if you have a bad case of nerves before your big day.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
There are several steps you can take to make yourself feel more confident and relaxed while speaking in front of others.
First, build your confidence by studying the material. The better you understand the topic, the more at ease you will feel speaking about it or taking questions afterward. You may also want to brainstorm potential questions the audience or group may ask.
Second, practice! The more you rehearse and memorize, the more comfortable you will feel. And while you’re practicing, visualize success. Positive thoughts will help drown out the negativity and relieve some of your anxiety.
Third, focus on the material, not the audience. You are there to give a speech, not to count how many people are listening or wonder what they think of your speech so far.
Lastly, remember that you have already succeeded just by standing in front of that podium. Even if you lose your place, and there is a moment of silence, you have not failed.
For some, speaking in front of others arouses such anxiety that it causes a full-blown panic attack. If you are obsessed about reoccurring panic and feel detached from your thoughts and emotions, you may need to seek professional help. Cognitive behavior therapy can direct negative thoughts in a more positive direction.
It takes time and practice, but you can overcome your public speaking phobia.