Did you know that researches have shown that the fear of public speaking is even stronger than the fear of flying?
In its core, the fear of public speaking originates from the people’s need to be loved and accepted by the community. When we find ourselves in a situation when we have to speak publicly (no matter how many people are in the audience) we start creating an illusion that everyone who is listening to us will see our flaws and that, therefore, they will underestimate us.
There are three systems which are responsible for the reactions we feel inside, and they can happen simultaneously:
- Cognitive functioning
- Motor behaviour
- The reactions of the autonomous nervous system
To decrease the fear of public speaking, we have prepared six tips that can help you when you step onto the stage:
Practice and Prepare Yourself
How to be 100% sure about the topic you are presenting? In this case, one of the crucial things are preparation and the knowledge of the material you will be talking about. How do you do that? Prepare a reminder with bullet points, as well as the answers to all the questions you can think of. In case this is not enough for you, ask your friends and family to be your audience and to give you honest feedback on the things you need to change when presenting your topic.
Focus on Positive Thoughts
It’s completely normal that each individual who is about to give a public speech has thoughts like: “everyone will be laughing at me”, “they will see how scared I am”, or “I’ll make a mistake”. However, these kinds of thoughts are not useful. When you start having these thoughts, try to keep them under control and switch to the thoughts like “I’ll make it” or “people are here because they are interested in my topic”.
When you recognise negative thoughts, say “STOP” and repeat some of the sentences you would prepare in advance, like: “I’ve invested a lot of effort in this and I’ll be good at it.”
Visualise Your Success
One of the useful techniques you can use is visualisation. How will you do that? It’s pretty simple. Close your eyes and imagine a situation you are about to experience; the space, how you would step onto the stage, the audience’s reaction, how you would feel during the lecture and after your speech.
We often forget to listen to our body when we are exposed to new situations. If you feel that your heart is “pounding” and that you are breathing shallowly, you should start with breathing practices which will remind your body that everything is fine. Which practices are we talking about here?
The technique you can use is to breathe out so that you let the air out of your lungs. After that, you slowly inhale through the nose until your lungs are completely full again. Keep your breath as long as you feel comfortable and then slowly breathe out through your mouth. You can repeat this exercise ten times.
It’s OK to Make Mistakes
Don’t forget that it is completely normal to make a mistake during your presentation, to stop for a few seconds and to get confused. Make a joke at your own expense, because, at the end of the day, we are all humans. We all make mistakes, and that’s not the end of the world. :) What’s important is that we use those mistakes to learn something new and keep on improving. Do your presentation with positive emotions and convey your message with passion, because, besides the lecture, these are the things your audience will remember.
Listen to Somebody with Experience in Public Speaking
If you don’t have anybody to consult about public speaking, you can always find interesting TED talks that give you useful tips on how to triumph in your public appearance.
What if you want to further improve your public speaking skills? In this case, it is advisable that you focus on professional education that will help you develop and advance not only in your professional life but in everyday situations when you have to present your own story or express your opinion. This kind of education covers techniques and skills on how to give a lecture in the best possible way.
These are some of the tips which can help you overcome the fear of public speaking and fight the stage fright.
The magic formula that will make the fear go away instantly does not exist. But with these tips and practices, you will manage to reduce it and make yourself more productive and better at public speaking.
Each new public appearance should not be a burden. You should see it as a new challenge, a new opportunity to work on yourself and improve. Once you finish your speech, you can even write down some of your impressions on how you presented your topic, how satisfied you are with it, where you have made a mistake and what you can do better next time.
One conquers fear by facing it, practising and working on themselves. Do you dare to challenge yourself and step onto the stage?