Overcome Your Public Speaking Anxiety with These Time-Tested Techniques

Dec 10, 2013 - Joe Matar

Is your fear of public speaking stopping you from reaching your full potential in your career? Or maybe it's holding you back from having a successful job interview?

It’s natural to have anxiety before speaking in public or to people you don’t know. In fact, fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the world today. But with practice, relaxation and the right steps, you can overcome your public speaking anxieties. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)

When you practice:

  • Rehearse your speeches, presentations and interviews out loud with friends, family, work associates and anyone else willing to listen.
  • Practice with all the equipment you’re going to use.
  • Work on your breathing, pauses, posture and voice.
  • Practice with a timer so you can plan for the unexpected.
  • Get used to your fear by visualizing everything that causes you anxiety.
  • Avoid memorizing every word or reading word-for-word as that can cause additional stress and worsen anxiety.

Before you speak:

  • Relax. Relaxation is vital before you present your speech.
  • Exercise  — go for a quick walk to calm your nerves.
  • Get rid of any negative thoughts fueling your public speaking anxieties.
  • Eat well, but don’t force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry.
  • Avoid caffeine and sugar.
  • Arrive early if possible and practice your presentation.
  • Warm up your voice by talking and doing vocal exercises.
  • Envision yourself presenting with a confident, loud voice, and envision your presentation being successful.

While you speak:

  • Start strong. Be open, loud and confident.
  • Think of your audience as your friends rather than strangers.
  • Smile and be as natural as possible.
  • Relax — take deep breaths and don’t be afraid to pause.
  • Move around a little to avoid shaking.
  • Concentrate on what you’re talking about, not on your anxieties.
  • If you make mistakes, don’t apologize. Just keep going. Your audience probably didn’t even notice.

After you speak:

  • Recognize positive points from your presentation even if you felt you had a bad experience.
  • Don’t reflect on negative things that happened as that can make you fear speaking publicly even more.
  • If you made mistakes, relax and remember that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Get more experience and practice as much as possible.

Speakers who lack confidence typically feel nervous, which can negatively affect their confidence level. Remember that nobody is perfect.

You don’t need to memorize every single word of your speech. Try to remember the points you want to make. Prioritizing the content of your speech may help you define your points and make them clearer.

There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars. - Mark Twain

Avoid expecting so much from yourself when dealing with fears and phobias. Give yourself the opportunity and time to grow and overcome these obstacles and don’t push yourself further than you can handle. It’s not impossible to overcome fears when you take the right steps and practice on a regular basis.

Bill Thomason’s coaching and special courses are provided to teach powerful life skills required to excel in everyday life and in business. For more information on his teachings, you can visit his site and download his free reports on neuro-linguistic programming.