10 steps to conquer your public speaking fear


The fear of public speaking is the most common of all the phobias as it’s a form of performance anxiety in which a person becomes very concerned that s/he will look visibly anxious, maybe even have a panic attack while speaking.

Avneet Kohli shares her expert opinion on how to conquer public speaking fear.

This is the often-terrifying reality of public speaking — something many of us avoid at all costs. Here are some constructive ways to calm those nerves and prepare you for the stage that has your name!

1. Public speaking and self worth are not the same
Whether you are good at public speaking or not has nothing to do with your value as a person. Practice makes one perfect when it comes to public speaking.

2. Know your material

It’s always easier to pick a topic that you already know about or are passionate about. If not, take the effort to get to know it.

It makes speaking about it easier, and the fact that you have knowledge about it will just fill your speech with insights that can’t be found on the Internet!

3. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse out loud with everything you plan on using. Notice your expressions; loosen up in front of the mirror and notice when you use filler words in your speech and work to control them (like/uh).

It is important to rehearse and not to memorise.

The odds are that if you slip up, the only person who will realise is you, and that’s where rehearsing and not mugging helps.

If you learn it by rote, you are sure to panic in case you forget a word.

The audience is quick to pick up on that unease which will to them, translate to you not knowing your stuff.

Stick with what you know and make sure you put in enough research and rehearse.

4. Know the audience

Make eye contact with the audience when you enter the room and even when you’re speaking.

It gives them the impression that you’re comfortable and confident. It also has the added bonus of making the audience feel involved and important.

5. Know the room/stage

Reach early and get comfortable with the space that you have. Make sure all your visual aids (if any), are working, and do some breathing exercises before you start.

6. Relax

Start by addressing the audience and introducing yourself. It buys you time to survey the crowd and calm your nerves. Smile, pause and then begin.

7. Everyone is on your side

The audience clearly wants you there and is interested in what you have to say. Utilise their energy to fuel your speech.

8. Concentrate on the message — not the medium

Keep yourself focussed on your audience and what you are trying to convey to them, as opposed to thinking about your own anxieties. Believe that.

9. Do not over think the audience reaction

When you are on stage or speaking in public, calm your mind.

Remember that even if you see people looking at you like they think you are weird, ignore it. If there really is something that you know you are doing wrong, fix it as silently as possible, without drawing attention to yourself.

10. Gain experience

There’s a reason they still say ‘practice makes a person perfect’.

The best way to get rid of any fear or discomfort is to take the leap and speak in public whenever possible. It will be difficult the first couple of times, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

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