Is your fear of public speaking keeping you from reaching your full potential? Maybe it’s holding you back from a successful job interview.
It’s natural to have anxiety before you speak in public. In fact, fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the world. But with practice, relaxation and the right steps, you can overcome your public-speaking anxieties.
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When you practice:
1. Rehearse your speeches, presentations and interviews out loud with friends, family, work associates and anyone else willing to listen.
2. Practice with all the equipment you’ll use in the presentation.
3. Work on your breathing, pauses, posture and voice.
4. Use a timer so you can plan for the unexpected.
5. Visualize everything that causes you anxiety so you can get used to your fear.
6. Avoid memorizing every word. It can cause additional stress and worsen anxiety.
Before you speak:
7. Relax. Relaxation is vital before you present.
8. Exercise. Go for a quick walk to calm your nerves.
9. Get rid of any negative thoughts fueling your anxiety.
10. Eat well, but don’t force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry.
11. Avoid caffeine and sugar.
12. Arrive early to practice your presentation.
13. Warm up your voice by talking and doing vocal exercises.
14. Envision yourself presenting with a loud, confident voice. Envision yourself giving a successful presentation.
While you speak:
15. Start strong. Be open, loud and confident.
16. Think of your audience members as your friends-not strangers.
17. Smile, and be as natural as possible.
18. Relax. Take deep breaths and don’t be afraid to pause.
19. Move around a little to avoid shaking.
20. Concentrate on what you’re talking about—not your anxieties.
21. Don’t apologize if you make mistakes. Just keep going. Your audience probably didn’t even notice.
After you speak:
22. Recognize the positive points from your presentation, even if you felt you had a bad experience.
23. Don’t reflect on the negative things that happened, as that can make you fear speaking publicly even more.
24. Remember that everyone makes mistakes.
25. Get more experience, and practice as much as possible.
Speakers who lack confidence typically feel nervous. Remember that nobody is perfect. Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.”
You don’t need to memorize every word of your speech. Try to remember the points you want to make, and prioritize the content of your speech. It may help you define your points and make them clearer.
Avoid expecting so much from yourself when dealing with fears and phobias. Give yourself the opportunity and time to grow and overcome these obstacles, and don’t push yourself further than you can handle. It’s not impossible to overcome fears when you take the right steps and practice regularly.
Bill Thomason‘s coaching and special courses teach powerful life skills required to excel in everyday life and in business. This article first appeared on Brazen Life, a career blog for young professionals.