Overcoming Public Speaking Fears

public_speakingDo your knees tremble and your hands shake when you have to make a speech in public? Would you rather do your filing than speak in front of a group?

Public speaking DOES NOT HAVE TO BE STRESSFUL! Even the best speakers have their critics. They too can make mistakes, get tongue-tied or forget whole segments of their speech. So here are the top 10 tips to help you overcome some of those fears:

  1. You are no more or less human than the best speakers. If they can conquer the fear of public speaking, so can you!
  2. No matter how good a job you do . . . someone is going to disapprove of either you or your topic. You simply need to remember that you are doing the very best you can.
  3. Give your listeners something of value. If your listeners walk away with something (anything!) of value, they will consider your speech a success. If they walk away feeling happy or entertained, feeling better about themselves, or knowing more about something, they will consider your speech a success.
  4. All you need is two or three main points. You don’t have to deliver mountains of facts or details to give your listeners what they truly want.
  5. Your listeners want you to succeed. Most of them, just like you, are scared to death of public speaking. They know the risks. They will feel for you and be on your side.
  6. Speak with passion. When you have a choice, choose a topic that you are passionate about, feel confident with and are knowledgeable about.
  7. Be yourself. Be natural, funny and honest, and create your own style. It is hard to imitate another speaker and even harder to maintain an image that simply isn’t you. So just let your passion come through, and keep focused on the great ideas and points you want to share with your listeners.
  8. Get support. Work with a coach to overcome your fear. Have someone you know and trust listen to you, or practise with a friend who has the same fear.
  9. Practise, practise, practise! Talk in front of a mirror or record yourself on tape so you can say, “That wasn’t so bad.” Seize every opportunity to speak in public: at your child’s school, in small groups at work. Better yet, offer to teach a course about something you know very well.
  10. People want to hear what you have to say. Don’t keep them waiting!

Compiled by Des Whitehorn

Des Whitehorn is the training principal of Zee Associates (www.zee-associates.co.uk). She can be contacted on 01825 733621 or at deswhitehorn@zee-associates.co.uk.