Public speaking fear is a common phobia that affects most people. The first step to overcoming your fear is to understand its cause. The human brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined threat. When you’re in front of a large audience, tell yourself: “This is just a false alarm.” Remember that the audience wants you to succeed and deliver a fabulous speech. Nobody is standing there hoping you’ll fail.
Check out these proven ways to manage your fear of public speaking:
Understand the Problem
Many people are afraid of speaking in public because of their lack of experience. Some believe that they have to be brilliant or perfect to succeed. Others have had bad experiences with public speaking in the past. Speaking in public is not inherently stressful. After all, most children speak in front of others without hesitation. Before making a speech, say to yourself:
• Everything is going to be fine, no matter what happens.
• If others can speak in public, I can do it too.
• Being afraid is perfectly normal.
• Public speaking fear is simply an uncomfortable feeling that will go away.
• Nobody expects me to be perfect.
• People are forgiving and understanding.
Plan your speech ahead of time. Learn how to engage your audience. Practice as much as you can, and get feedback from a trusted source. Unless you’re an experienced speaker, you should never appear in front of an audience without a lot of preparation. Knowing that you have a brilliant prepared will give you confidence.
Accept Your Fear
Simply accept that you will be nervous. The key is not to fight your fear, but to embrace it, reframe it, and control it. Think about the world’s greatest speakers. You’re no more or less human than they are. If they can overcome public speaking fear, so can you. Being able to overcome anxiety can have huge payoffs in terms of your career.
Control Your Fear
There are techniques that can help you overcome public speaking fear, including hypnosis, medication, visualization, affirmations, neuro-linguistic programming, breathing exercises, mental rehearsal, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Imagine yourself speaking in front of a large group. Once you have this image in mind, make it as silly and ridiculous as possible. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Once you accept your fear and learn how to control it, you may still experience some anxiety but you’ll have the tools to manage it.