Fear of Public Speaking
If your knees are knocking, your heart pounding and your mouth is dry, don’t worry….. you aren’t alone. According to a frequently cited survey, most people consider public speaking more frightening than death!
Personally I’d rather lecture to a thousand people wearing only my socks than die….. but they are rather nice socks.
Many celebrities have suffered from stage fright and anyone who doesn’t get a little nervous is probably a few French fries short of a Happy Meal. But that’s no help when stage fright strikes. What practical steps can you take?
If you live in the Solihull, Coventry or Birmingham areas, we hope that you will come along to Sans Souci Speakers Club and gradually learn to relax in a friendly and supportive environment. If you can’t make it to Sans Souci, please try the suggestions below… good luck.
Three strategies to beat your fear of public speaking
The experts give three strategies to reduce your fear of public speaking.
- Preparation and rehearsal.
- Deep breathing.
- Mental preparation.
Public Speaking Tip:
Rehearsal and preparation will reduce your fear of public speaking by 75 percent.
“ What generates confidence is preparing well, practising with astute colleagues or coaches and getting their feedback, making sure all the little details are taken care of, and speaking often ”
Fear of public speaking, performance anxiety, stage fright, call it what you will, rehearsal and preparation will reduce your fear by a whopping 75 percent.
The great speakers and entertainers we see on television make it look effortless. What you don’t see are the teams of speech writers and the hours and hours of practice behind each perfect performance.
Ad-libs, off the cuff one liners and even complete impromptu speeches….. all practised, rehearsed and perfected long before they are used.
Unfortunately we mere mortals have to do exactly the same if we are to reduce our fear of public speaking.
Preparation means sorting out all the things that are in your control….. and thinking about what you might do if things go wrong.
The things in your control are:
- Making sure you have a copy of your script.
- Arriving at the venue early and becoming familiar with the surroundings.
- Checking how to adjust the lectern before you walk on stage.
- Chatting to people in the room to help you relax.
The things that can go wrong are too numerous to mention but they could be…….
- Your best joke or story fails to get a laugh.
- The microphone acts up.
- Not enough chairs in the room for the audience.
- You ask for questions and there is no response.
Believe it or not, all of these situations can be anticipated and prepared for……for the solutions to all of the above and many many more, refer to Lilly Walters excellent book “What to Say When…..You’re Dying on the Platform” on our Public Speaking Books, Websites and Blogs page.
Public Speaking Tip:
Practise deep breathing to reduce your fear of public speaking by another 15 percent.
“ If you are afraid, breathe slowly, feel your feelings and share them if you need to and then proceed to enrich the lives of others through your presentation. ”
For some reason, we forget to breathe normally when we get nervous, which makes us more stressed, which makes us breathe less, which makes us more nervous……. have I made the point.
Breathing exercises are one of the world’s oldest techniques for relieving stress. Control your breathing, take a deep breath, hold it 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 now let it out slowly, slowly, slowly and keep doing that.
Try it whenever you get nervous and whilst you’re waiting to be announced.
Public Speaking Tip:
Control your mind to reduce your fear of public speaking by that final 10 percent.
“ Always visualise the end of the program with 5,000 people standing up and applauding your ideas and presentation – it removes stage fright. ”
No I’m not talking about the Vulcan mind probe….. I’m talking about changing negative thoughts into positive ones.
We all have those niggling thoughts:
- “I’ts going to be awful.”
- “I’m going to look a fool.”
- “My boss is going to think I’m an idiot.”
But if you have prepared thoroughly, you can replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
- “I’m going to enjoy this.”
- “I know my subject – I’m going to look good.”
- “My boss will be impressed.”
In his book “Public Speaking for Dummies”, Malcolm Kushner says:
“The uncommon knowledge is, it doesn’t really matter how nervous you are – as long as you appear calm. As long as the audience thinks you’re confident, that’s what counts.”
So there you have it – all you have to do is act out being calm and we all know what calm looks like. Relax your shoulders, let your arms hang loose, no fidgeting, no pacing, no stiff movements…… a few deep breaths, a sip of water, then walk out slowly…….. good luck.