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Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

The fear of public speaking is a very real fear for many. In fact, the fear of public speaking and the fear of death are often classified together. Unfortunately, public speaking and death are two things you cannot avoid in life.

Powerful public speaking instills motivation in the audience, creates compelling presentations, successfully communicates key messages and establishes credibility.

According to a Forbes article, 70 percent of employees say presentation skills are critical to career success. If you are unable to present in front of a crowd, your professional performance may suffer. With that being said, here are some ways you can alleviate the social anxiety that accompanies public speaking:

Change your mindset

If you have ever found yourself saying, “I absolutely hate public speaking,” then you are not alone. According to a Forbes article, roughly 80 percent of the population has public speaking anxiety.

Actively changing your mindset will work wonders prior to performing a speech. Instead of associating nerves with a negative connotation, think to yourself: “I am really excited to give this speech.”

Studies show positive thoughts will change your mindset. Changing your mindset will change your attitude about giving a speech. A positive attitude will noticeably benefit your presentation.

Accept the adrenaline

Relax in the fact that even the most skilled presenters experience adrenaline before public speaking. The difference in a strong and poor public speaker is how one handles the adrenaline rush. A poor public speaker allows the adrenaline to become debilitating, while a strong public speaker channels the adrenaline.

When you feel adrenaline set in, take time to acknowledge it. Turn it into positive energy and use it to your advantage. Take a few deep breaths, regain your focus and collect your thoughts. Remind yourself that an adrenaline rush is your body’s way of preparing you for what is to come. If you do not, your adrenaline may become overwhelming.

Practice makes perfect

Practice your introduction. Practice your speech with a friend or in the mirror.

The introduction of a speech is important for two reasons. It provides a first impression to an audience, and if done well, it serves as a confidence booster for the speaker.

The introduction establishes a speaker’s credibility, previews the key points and grabs the audience’s attention (hopefully). An article on Business Insider says within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are. Additionally, research suggests it takes a tenth of a second in a first impression to determine traits like trustworthiness.

A solid introduction serves as a confidence boost for a speaker. A well-executed introduction lays a strong foundation for the rest of the speech. Therefore, memorize and rehearse your introduction to begin your speech with confidence. It sets the tone for whole speech.

Always remember…

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Always remember, an expert in anything was once a beginner. Most importantly, remembers that it is OK to be scared as long as you challenge yourself to become better. Practice and preparation make perfect! A better you starts here.

Written by Elizabeth Summers, vp of finance and membership.



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