3 Tips to Help You Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking

There it is. The email you’ve been waiting for telling you…YOU GOT THE SPEAKING GIG! Congrats! You’ll finally be able to get up in front of an audience, enlighten your potential customers on the wonderful ways your service or product will change their lives, and share the wisdom you’ve been hard at work refining. 

There’s only one problem—you’re terrified of public speaking. 

The mere thought of it fires the starting pistol and sends your heart rate racing down the track. 

There’s no backing out now. You’ve worked too hard to pass up such a great opportunity. But how will you be able to stand up in front of an audience without being taken down by a panic attack?

Don’t worry. Take a few deep breaths. Whether you have a crippling fear of public speaking or a simple case of the butterflies, you are in control. 

What can be done about your fear of public speaking? A ton! 

But first, let’s look at the reasons why public speaking activates anxiety. 

Psychologists Barrell, Medeiros, Barrell, and Price investigated the causes of performance anxiety and came up with 5 reasons for stagefright

  1. I perceive or imagine the presence of significant others who are able to judge me.
  2. I consider the possibility of my visible failure at my task.
  3. I feel the need to do well to avoid failure.
  4. I feel uncertain as to whether I will do well.
  5. I concentrate on my own behavior or appearance.

Notice a connection between causes?

They are all “I” focused.

Your speaking anxiety is directly connected to your self-concern. You are so worried about yourself and how you will be seen by your audience that you’re overlooking the entire reason you’re giving the presentation in the first place—to enrich the lives of your audience members with your knowledge and expertise. 

The key to getting rid of public speaking nerves is to shift your focus from yourself and your needs to your audience and its needs.

I know, I know, easier said than done! Hang in there, you can do it! 

How to get over your fear of public speaking

Here are 3 steps you can take to get over your fear of public speaking and make your presentation the highlight of the evening.

1. Be Prepared

Nothing beats preparation. Nothing. 

You can be an absolute expert in your field and still deliver a lackluster performance if you’re not prepared. 

Make sure you’re ready to talk in depth on three or four main points. Go over each point until you know it inside and out. Work on transitions, along with a strong opening and closing that has a compelling call to action. Rehearse your presentation and give it to as many people who will listen.

2. Find Your Story

What’s the heart of your presentation? 

If you’re giving a presentation about your business or a specific service or product, ask yourself why it matters to you. More important, ask yourself why it matters to your ideal client.

Tell a personal story that relates to your topic. At Presenting U. we help our clients open their “Story Boxes” to mine compelling personal stories that will connect with their subject matter. Finding your personal story will anchor you to the presentation and hook the audience.

Short on personal tales? Folk tales will do just as nicely, as will tales you’ve heard that have touched you. As long as they are relevant and resonant.

3. Know Your Audience

Who will be sitting in the seats? Potential clients? Fellow employees? 

You must know who will be in your audience in order to connect to them. If possible, greet each audience member as he or she arrives. This brief introduction will help familiarize them to you and make them less intimidating. 

Before you go on, ask yourself why they need to hear what you have to say. How will it affect their lives? 

People are there to watch you speak because you have information to share in a uniquely you way. They WANT you to succeed, so consider them friends! 

The more you know your audience, the more you can tailor your message to them, and the more of an impact you can make on their lives.

Last-Minute Pep Talk

Being nervous isn’t a bad thing. Those butterflies are just your body’s way of preparing for an important and exciting event. Just make sure that instead of focusing inward on your own fears, you turn your focus on your audience members and how you can make their lives better. 

We need your voice and wisdom, so share it loud and proud!

And if you haven’t already, watch our video above: How to Get Over Presentation Jitters

Be a conversation starter. Let us know how your presentation goes in the comments below, and what tips and tricks you use to get over those pesky nerves.

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