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10+ Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

        posted by , April 26, 2013

A healthy fear of public speaking is common.

Mark Twain famously joked that there are only two types of public speakers: the nervous and the liars. Around 3 out of 4 people will admit to being nervous speaking in front of a crowd.

When you're nervous you feel like the whole world can see right through you. The fact is that your fear of public speaking may not be as noticeable as you think.

Instead of focusing on your fear — focus on delivering a good talk or presentation. In the process your fear will diminish.

These techniques will help you to turn your fear into an advantage. You may even learn to enjoy a few butterflies in your stomach.

1. Learn To Enjoy Adrenaline

Shift your thinking from risk-avoidance to risk-taking. It's the only solid way to overcome fear.

When you're in front of a crowd you can focus on avoiding bad outcomes such as falling on your face. Alternatively, you can enjoy the adrenaline rush of risk.

A fear response is a physical thing that boosts your mental alertness. Instead of dreading your fear response, learn to use it to your advantage. If you're more fearful than anyone else in the room — you're also sharper.

2. What Would John F. Kennedy do?

Cultivate an interest in the art of public speaking.

Watch some of the greatest speeches in history. Watch any accomplished public speaker and study their technique.

Concentrate on improving your abilities. When you're focused on the task at hand your fears fall into the background.

3. Prepare & Practice

Fearful public speakers often outperform fearless speakers because they're more motivated to prepare.

Prepare and practice with the goal of improving your delivery and message.

4. Avoid Memorization and Static Approaches

A speech or presentation is dynamic. Keep your preparations high level and improvise a little each time you practice.

Memorization makes it difficult to recover from errors or interact with your audience. It also tends to make you sound like a robot.

5. Practice Recoveries

One of the reasons people are nervous speaking in front of a crowd is that they fear making embarrassing mistakes. The first step to getting over these feelings is to expect mistakes instead of fearing them. Prepare for them.

Your talk may not go as planned. You might make mistakes or things might get off track.

When you slip up in practice — keep going. Develop techniques to recover from challenges.

If you mispronounce a word, make a joke. If you skip something, go back. Learn to take your time. Calmly recover from challenges.

Many accomplished public speakers use mistakes as a opportunity to let their personality shine through.

6. Breathe

Develop simple calming techniques such as slow, controlled, deep breathing. In the minutes leading up to your talk, clear your mind and relax. Last minute cramming just makes you more nervous. Remember that fear usually peaks in anticipation of public speaking and declines the second you start talking.

7. Let Your Passion Drive You

Speak about topics that you're passionate about. Let your excitement for communicating worthy ideas carry you through.

8. Be Yourself or James Bond

Be Yourself. People feel that they need to take on a new persona when they speak in front of a crowd. This isn't necessary. Just be yourself.

That being said, if it helps you to imagine that you're James Bond when your in front of an audience — go for it. Just don't take things too far. Otherwise, people might wonder why you develop a poorly intimidated accent when you speak.

9. Imagine You're Speaking To An Old Friend

Be aware of your audience. Look at them. However, it doesn't hurt to imagine that you're speaking to an old friend rather than a large crowd.

10. Enjoy the Silence

Take Your Time. There's no need to rush through your talk. People are there to listen to you, you're not wasting their time.

Speak at a normal pace. You can even speak slower than your normal pace if you feel it will help get your message across.

Learn to be comfortable with moments of silence. Use pauses to build suspense or emphasize a point.

12. Stick To Your Strengths

Humor is an effective public speaking technique. However, if you're terrible at delivering jokes — it's ok to skip it.

Focus on your strengths. Maybe your good with people. Maybe your knowledgeable. Maybe your a good storyteller. Whatever your strengths may be — use them.

13. Speak in Public As Often As Possible

The best way to overcome any fear is to face it. Get in front of an audience at any opportunity. Consider public speaking training. Join a public speaking organization such as Toastmasters.

14. Food for Thought

A few insights into fear.

A person's fears are lighter when the danger is at hand.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Knowing what must be done does away with fear.
~ Rosa Parks

My 'fear' is my substance, and probably the best part of me.
~ Franz Kafka

There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.
~ Baruch Spinoza

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.
~ Andre Gide

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.
~ Christian Nestell Bovee

Courage is a peculiar kind of fear.
~ Charles Kennedy

Let the fear of danger be a spur to prevent it.
~ Francis Quarles

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us.
~ Ian Rush

It is the perpetual dread of fear, the fear of fear, that shapes the face of a brave man.
~ Georges Bernanos

To fight fear, act. To increase fear - wait, put off postpone.
~ David Joseph Schwartz

Fear is excitement without breath.
~ Robert Heller

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.
~ Buddha

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
~ Jim Morrison

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.
~ Arthur Koestler

When we are afraid we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger.
~ Hale White

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
~ Nelson Mandela

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

~ Bill Cosby

Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day.
~ Brendan Francis

Do what you fear and fear disappears.
~ David Joseph Schwartz

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
~ Mark Twain

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