5 Tips For Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

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By Trevor Johnson
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Expert Author Trevor Johnson

Public speaking is high up on most people’s list of fears. So if you have a phobia about speaking in public you can at least rest assured that you are not alone. Even a lot of highly rated performers are in full-on panic more before they go on stage. And they’ve had a lot more experience performing in public than you have.

1. Rehearse your material

Read through your material several times before you actually speak in public.

You need to do this out loud, not just in your head. Because there’s a world of difference between how your notes sound if you read them in your head versus actually hearing them.

If you don’t follow this first tip, the first time you actually hear your speech will be when you’re delivering it. By which time it’s too late to change anything that isn’t right.

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2. Don’t announce your nervousness

Especially if they know this is early on in your public speaking career, your audience will probably know that you’re likely to be nervous.

But even if they don’t suspect, there’s no need to tell them that you’re quivering in your shoes.

Apart from anything else, publicly announcing that you’re scared to be on stage will feed the nerves and give your subconscious mind an extra chance to sabotage you.

The same advice goes for when you’re mid speech and lose the plot. Just make light of it and go back to where you lost your place. The event will soon be forgotten.

3. Don’t bury your head in your notes

This is another reason why rehearsing your public speech is so important.

If your head is always buried in your notes, several things will happen.

Firstly, your voice won’t carry anywhere near as well. You’ll probably end up with a boring speech pattern that borders on monotone.

Secondly, you’ll miss out on engaging your audience. If you appear to be more interested in the piece of paper in front of you than you are in your audience, that’s not good for anyone in the room.

There are other things that will affect the dynamics but those two are the main reasons why you need to look up while you’re speaking and keep eye contact with your audience.

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4. Don’t rely on Power Point

You’ve probably sat through a presentation where the narrator just read out everything that was on his slides.

This not recommended because it makes you lazy and also means that any fast readers in the audience will be reading ahead of you. Even if they’re just keeping pace with you – which is unlikely – they won’t actually be listening to what you’re saying as their focus will be on the slide.

5. Don’t fidget

This will increase your nervousness and will make your audience concentrate on what you’re doing rather than what you’re saying.

It’s the reason that politicians and other public speakers often use a podium. Their audience won’t see their leg shaking and the podium gives them an excuse to put their hands somewhere rather than leave them wildly flapping around gesturing or looking as though they’re fondling a set of worry beads.

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So if you get the option to use a podium, take it. Even if you wander round the stage, it can be your own Linus blanket when you need to go back to a safe place for a few minutes.

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