Every great speaker has experienced fear of speaking in public at least once in their lifetime, just as every person will experience speaking in public at least once in their life. The fear is real. What is the fear of public speaking? There’s a term for that! Glossophobia is the very common fear of public speaking. Statistics show that Glossophobia affects 75% of the population. -Career Contessa
Here are some tips to help you ease the fear of public speaking.
Study your material to a “T”: Overly study your material. It is better to be safe than sorry. This will prepare you to properly answer any questions asked rather than be asked a question and not have an answer.
Find a friendly face: Don’t focus on the crowd. Focus on your material. Try to connect with one person in the crowd. Find a person who is smiling and is responsive to what you say.
Practice in front of others: I know it sounds silly, but if possible, do a mock presentation. Ask a friend or someone at work that you trust and pretend you’re presenting for real. Run your speech or presentation by them and ask for feedback. Take this as constructive criticism and make use of it.
Consider worst case scenario: Be optimistic that everything will go as planned. What are you afraid of? Think of it, then take away that power from the negative thoughts and sprint into action instead.
Slow down: You will automatically want to rush through your speech, just DON’T! Instead, take your time. Acclaim silence. It’s ok to be silent in between statements; your audience needs to digest the information you are presenting. Avoid filler words like “um” and “like” and learn to embrace the quiet. When you ask a question, provide 4 times as much silence when you expect an answer.
Engage in repeat exposure: When there’s a fear of doing something, you will try to avoid anything related to that trigger, but avoiding won’t help. It will only stunt your growth. Take part in activities that will help you practice that fear. Apply smaller ways to practice. For example, when at work, ask your boss if you may present an idea in person rather than sending him an email.
Create a relaxation practice: Simply breathing in and out works! Take the time to calm your nerves. Find whatever works for you to relax. Try to prepare enough during the days leading up to your speech so you can give yourself a break from it the day of.
Lastly, make sure you arrive at least 20 minutes early on the day of the presentation. It’s best to be there early on to examine your surroundings but most importantly, to familiarize yourself with your audience. Interact with people. These are most likely all strangers to you; they will become familiar faces once you interact briefly with them. This will provide more comfort while you present. Let’s keep in mind that what can go wrong may go wrong, so prepare for the worst-case scenario. For instance, you can experience technical difficulties, such as your presentation has trouble downloading. A solution to that would be that you bring a flash drive as your plan B. Don’t panic- if you panic, so will your audience. The main goal is to have control and confidence. You got this!