A fear of public speaking is considered one of the most common phobias to affect many people on a day-to-day basis, whether it be speaking on the phone in front of another person, presenting your PowerPoint at work or at school, or giving a speech at a private event. Public speaking is somewhat a way of life, and it can be extremely difficult to avoid. The fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia and even affects professionals who speak daily to large or smaller audiences. And the phobia supposedly affects 20% of the population of Britain, and is so terrifying to many that a solution is not doable. YouGov conducted a survey and found that women are more than twice as likely to be very afraid of public speaking to men.
If you know that you have a fear of public speaking, then here are some easy tips to consider facing your fears alone!
Public speaking can be learnt
Many would often assume that public speaking is a talent – correction, it’s a skill, and like any other skill, you can develop it yourself and be as good at is as you want or can. Don’t assume that you are born with the talent of public speaking. Some of the greatest people in the world, never assumed their role of power, by thinking they had it from the beginning. All you need to do is put time aside every day or every week and practice. As the saying goes – practice makes perfect and all you need to do is be determined and driven to see your skill develop.
It’s all about the beginning
Like an essay you write, your introduction affirms what it is you seek out to achieve or to discuss. The same goes for any public speaking situation – whether you have it written down in front of you or you have memorised it. Your opening will set the entire tone and it is the closing sentence that will leave people either engaged or distanced. The choice is yours – the best practice is to write your introduction and your conclusion with your audience in mind. You ideally want some interaction from your audience, so why not get a family member or friend involved in helping you to write it. After every section, read it out and see the response.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/
Be aware of your breathing
It is well-known that anxiety and nerves increases the speed at which your heart pumps to deliver blood around your body, causing palpitations and shaky hands. Being aware of your breathing is a major step in the fight against public speaking and when you breathe in deep, you will calm your nerves and add power to your voice. Rochelle Rice, an accredited Toastmasters International Speaker advises that you stand with your feet at parallel and put your arms out in front of you. Take five deep breaths in through the nose and out through your mouth.
Get dressed to practice
You’re at home, going over and over your speech, whilst lounging around on your sofa, but you seem to be having one mistake after another. Your environment is key – instead of sitting down on your sofa, perhaps in your pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms, simulate your experience as if it was your day to shine. Get dressed, put on your clothes that you intend to wear. You will feel under pressure, when putting yourself into a situation that is to come. Sims Wyeth, the author of The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking claims that ‘rehearsal transfers your words and ideas from the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher order conscious thought, to your cerebellum, which orchestrates the lightning fast motor activation needed to perform complex actions, like speaking to crowds, teaching your fingers to play a new piece of music, or learning your lines for a play’.
Speak about something that means a lot to you
When we’re in school or at work, a fear of public speaking comes from a lack of energy and enthusiasm for a topic you’re asked to present, thus your fear for public speaking makes itself known. If you are in a position of power, and you can speak about anything you want, then go for it. People love nothing more than truth and telling personal stories that resonate with their own lives. If you’re speaking to large or small crowds, or your boardroom meeting, make your speech all about you – bring out your personality and put your stamp on it.