Overcoming the Fear of Speaking

For years I taught public speaking to all kinds of people only to learn that they would rather die then get up in front of a group.  (By the way, I have seen research that bears this out – death over public speaking).

I’ve seen students run out of the room in fear and not show up again perfectly content to let the fear of speaking overcome them.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are my very best secrets to overcoming the fear of speaking to more than one person at a time:

  1. Talk to a group or a large audience the way you talk to one person.
  2. Never memorize the message (believe it or not people do this time and time again setting up the very next opportunity to forget what they were going to say).
  3. Be yourself not someone else or your image of another good speaker. 
  4. Being loud does not make you a good speaker.  Some of the most compelling orators are ones who speak softly.
  5. A pause is your best friend.
  6. When you forget what you were going to say, recap something you previously said.  If you can’t remember that, say, “I forgot what I was going to say” and presto it returns – try it.
  7. Rehearse three times in front of a mirror and keep time on your smartphone.  Each time I do this it comes out different which is great because the fourth and final time is in front of an audience and they don’t know what the first, second or third rehearsals sounded like.
  8. Practice a one line open and a one line close.
  9. Never overstay your welcome.  I followed a speaker once who had the audience in the palm of his hands until he couldn’t stop talking.  And he should have known better because he was a television personality.  Leave them wanting more.

Red face?  No problem – you’re just being authentic and authenticity is what we all strive for today.

So next time you have an opportunity to do a presentation or a talk, try these “secrets” and let me know how you do.

“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so.  For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind” – Dale Carnegie

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