If you have a fear of public speaking, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Did you know that three out of four people have a fear of public speaking? That’s 75 percent of the population that’s scared to stand up and speak in front of an audience. If you’re wondering how to overcome public speaking anxiety but feel like it’s impossible, think again.
Overcoming the fear of public speaking is absolutely possible. It just takes a little understanding to get you to that point. Knowing what causes public speaking anxiety and how it progresses will make a big difference in defeating it. Knowing what to do before and after your speech will also help you overcome public speaking anxiety once and for all.
What Causes Public Speaking Anxiety?
The fear of public speaking (glossophobia) affects more people than any other phobia there is. It’s what’s known as a social phobia and most often begins in childhood.
The fear of public speaking is closely related to the fear of being judged and can cause serious anxiety if someone’s required to make a speech. Other causes of public speaking anxiety include the following.
If you tend to be insecure or don’t have the highest self-esteem, chances are this is a big part of what’s causing your fear of public speaking. If you’re self-conscious or insecure with yourself, you’re going to make yourself very anxious thinking of all the things that could go wrong and how you’re not “good enough” to successfully make a public speech.
If you failed at making a speech before, you may hold the unconscious belief that you’re doomed to always fail at public speaking. There is no reason to think that, just because you failed before, you will again. History does not have to repeat itself, and you can be very successful at public speaking.
Fear of Looking Nervous
Many people are afraid of looking bad to others when they make a speech. It doesn’t matter what other people think, so stop worrying if you’re going to appear nervous giving a speech. Anyone would be nervous giving a speech, and if you do appear nervous, people in the audience are way more likely to sympathize with you than judge you.
Lack of Preparation
Preparing for your speech is vital if you want to avoid public speaking anxiety. A lack of preparation will certainly warrant fear of failure. There is absolutely no way to be confident you will succeed with your speech if you aren’t ready and organized.
Feeling Self-Conscious in Big Groups
You’d be surprised how many people freeze in front of large groups. This could be the most common reason people get nervous and develop public speaking anxiety. But speaking in front of large groups is no different from speaking in front of small groups; it’s simply a matter of how you look at it.
Our Modern-Day Lifestyles
For many people these days, more time is spent online than it is in public places. We’ve become used to a world that involves much less face-to-face communication and interaction with people on a daily basis. If you are required to give a speech, it can be extremely nerve racking if you’ve got little experience interacting with the public on a regular basis.
How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety
You should realize that a little bit of nervousness is totally normal. Don’t expect that you’re going to breeze through it without feeling a bit of trepidation. This is totally normal.
There is, however, a difference between a little bit of fear and an overwhelming, paralyzing sense of apprehension. Focusing solely on what might go wrong or on something that went wrong in the past will do nothing but produce more feelings of anxiety.
If you seriously want to overcome your public speaking anxiety, there are certain things you must do both before and after your speech. Following a certain set of guidelines (that have worked for others with public speaking anxiety) will help you through the process and allow you to successfully make your speech.
3 Things to Do Before Your Speech
Practice…And Then Practice Some More
Practice, practice, practice. There’s nothing more important than thoroughly practicing your speech before you give it. Performing a speech in public without practicing is one of the best ways to ensure failure and make your fears come true.
Think you’ve practiced enough? Think again. Before you give your speech, you should have practiced it so many times that there’s no room for mistakes. You should do more than just “know” your speech. You should become so familiar with your speech that giving it one more time before the big day comes is the last thing you want to do. Eat, sleep, and breathe your speech until it becomes a part of who you are.
Visualize your Success
Have you ever heard the idea that what you think about becomes true? Before giving your speech, rather than thinking about failure and everything that could go wrong, think instead about what could go right.
Before you give your speech, realize that your success or failure is ultimately in your own hands. Remember, the audience is there to listen to what you have to say, not ridicule your performance. Positive visualization is an excellent technique to help prepare you for your speech and for relieving anxiety that you feel about giving it.
Give Your Speech to Someone Else
Giving your speech to someone else before you give it to your audience is an excellent way to overcome public speaking anxiety. There are certainly people you know who would be willing to listen to your speech before the big day arrives. Ask them to listen and then be completely honest about what they hear.
This will not only give you more practice but also allow you to experience an audience before you give it to your “real audience.” No matter if it’s your friend, parent, or significant other, be sure to perform your speech for at least one person before the big day.
Two Things to Do After Your Speech
Focus on What Went Right
After your speech is over, make a list of at least five positive things that happened during your speech. Even if there were some failures, there were definitely some successes as well. These are what you want to focus on.
Write down everything you can possibly think of that went right. It could be something as simple as remembering all your lines or not stumbling as you took the stage. Focusing on what went right will help you keep any lingering anxiety at bay and allow you to better overcome your fears.
Give Your Speech One More Time
Suppose your speech went absolutely terrible. Do yourself a favor. Give it one more time. While this is probably the last thing you want to do, doing so will help you let go of some of the angst you feel about how the speech went and allow you to remember the speech in a more positive light.
The last thing you want is your final memory of your speech to be one where you were riddled with anxiety and full of fear. Give your speech again one more time from the comfort of your own home (even if it’s to your dog), and you’ll lose that lingering anxiety.
You can overcome your fear of public speaking. Do you have experience in prevailing over the anxiety you felt about public speaking? Have you gotten over public speaking anxiety and successfully delivered a powerful speech? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Let us know how you overcame your public speaking anxiety so others may do the same!