How You Can Overcome Anxiety About Public Speaking

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In a recent survey the fear of public speaking was rated No. 1, even beating the fear of death! Comedian Jerry Seinfeld quipped, "That means that at a funeral the average person would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy!" Even the most experienced speaker gets anxious when speaking in public. However, this fear can be controlled and even used to advantage. This article teaches us why people are nervous when speaking in front of a crowd and how you can conquer your fear. Let's look at three areas of concern:

Fear of the Audience

Many would be speakers are put off by worrying about what the audience is going to think of them, their appearance, their knowledge of the subject and how it is put across. Unless you are pretty extrovert there is the tendency not to want to 'make a fool of yourself in public'. Below are some strategies that can help you overcome your fear of the audience;

1. Choose a topic that you like and that you are familiar with. The more comfortable you are about your chosen topic, the more confident you are in facing your audience.

2. Having chosen (or been given) your topic make sure you know your subject as well as you can, research it thoroughly and determine to impart as much beneficial knowledge as you can in the time you have available to present it.

3. Analyze your expected audience carefully to establish their needs. Try to gain as much information about them as you can, for example by discussion with the person who booked you or organised the event. Do they just need to be informed about a subject? Do they need to be encouraged to take action as a result of the information you are imparting? Will they just be expecting to be entertained - or educated? You should consider age, ethnic mix, gender and their level of expertise.

Fear of Failure

Think about the material you are presenting and why you are presenting it. Become immersed in it. When you start to think more of your subject matter and less of yourself, your fear of speaking will diminish.

Trust in your capability of delivering your speech. Showing that you are in control in a pleasant way decreases your fear and increases your confidence in facing the situation.

Your audience shouldn't be viewed as your enemy. Endeavour to establish a rapport with them, inviting them by your actions to appreciate what you are telling them.

Picture yourself succeeding. If you think that you may freeze or fail in front of many people, chances are you will. But if you visualize yourself delivering your speech well, then, you will. "Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed" is a very apt quote from the award winning motivational speaker Michael Pritchard.

Think positively, - this is easier said than done, - but accept the fact that most speakers, including successful presenters suffer a degree of anxiety and yet still perform well. A little 'healthy' anxiety can in fact get the adrenaline flowing and you may even realise that anxiety can
work for you, not against you.

Fear That Your Speech is not Good Enough

Prepare well. Take time to research and write your speech. Review it and rewrite if necessary. The more confident you are with the material in your speech, the less terrified you will be about presenting it to an audience.

Practice and ask for suggestions on how you can improve your speech. Ask a friend(s) or relative(s) to act as your audience. Deliver your topic, then ask for their feedback and comments. Don't be afraid to hear what they will say. Their feedback can give you insight on what is good or bad in your speech, then you can further refine and improve what you have until you are comfortable with your presentation.

If you follow these suggestions you will be well on the road to redirecting that anxiety into 'nervous energy' which will get your adrenaline flowing and actually serve to help you deliver a successful and dynamic presentation.

About the Author:

Author and coach Tony James invites you to visit where speakers at all levels benefit from his regular informative Blogs with Hints, Tips and practical 'How to' Articles on Being a Better Speaker.

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