How To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking

How To Overcome The Fear Of Public SpeakingDo you have fear of public speaking? I know I used to.  But in my case, the theater killed it over two decades ago, and it never came back.

What about you? Are you someone who feels that there’s no cure to public speaking?

Well, if so, let me put you at ease right now. There is a cure to fear of public speaking.

But before we even talk about the cure, what is the source of public speaking, anyway?

In this post, I will discuss what the source of fear of public speaking is, and how to overcome it. So, fasten your seat belt and let go.

What is the Source of Public Speaking?

When people are fearful about giving a public speech it’s because of false anticipation on their part.

They anticipate the fact that they may make a mistake, not measure up to expectation, experience some type of incidents while speaking, forgetting what they’re supposed to say, or being judge negatively by people in the audience, etc.

All of these, create fear of public speaking for many people.  But just by taking a quick look at the reasons why people have fear of public speaking, it’s obvious that it simply comes from a lack of self-confidence.  Yes, fear of public speaking is all about lack of confidence in our ability to perform the act of speaking in front of an audience.

The problem is that as long as this lack of confidence does exist in you, you most likely will experience some of those scary things that you’re imagining in your head, because fear could affect your memory, your speech and your overall actions and reactions.

So, let’s practice a step by step to kill your fear of public speaking forever.

But now, what makes me an expert in public speaking, you might ask? Well, years of it.

First I’ve got 8 years of acting and 10 years of giving regular small speeches in my former church where I’ve done it in English, French, Spanish, and yes, even Korean.  Talk about fear of public speaking when you have to do it in a foreign language!

So, I’ve got 18 years of public speaking behind me, and by the way, as my visualizations go, I will have many more in the future.

So, now that I’ve given you my credentials on the topic, let’s see how you can tell that fear of public speaking goodbye.

You’re Not Alone

You’re not alone, most people on the planet have had at some point the fear of public speaking, even if they are now looking cool as cucumber.

I bet if you’d ask someone who is now a seasoned public speaker, they’ll tell you that it wasn’t always that way.  For most of us, there’s been a learning curve, so to speak.

I remember the first time I ever been on a theater platform with online like 20-30 people present, I was a wreck.  I thought I would never make it. It was awful. But one thing that I quickly realized was that it was more painful to let that fear take over than me trying to take over that fear and get rid of the handicap it was causing me.

Fear of public speaking is a vicious circle. You’re fearful of speaking in public, but that fear alone will make you do the very things you’re afraid of. So you need to consciously decide to take over, and get rid of that fear.

Fear is a Liar

I’m sure you’ve heard that before; the word FEAR goes for False Evidence Appearing Real (of so it seems, right?).  This is truer in the case of fear of public speaking than any other fear.

When people have paid or taken some of their time to sit in a room to hear you speak, believe me, they are on your side. The last thing they want is for you to be bad in anyway.

The only REAL person that is inviting the fear is YOU.  You create your own fear. Whatever you’re imagining that might or will happen is ONLY in your head. It doesn’t exist at all. Whatever is going on in your head when you’re afraid to speak in front of a group of people is based on false evidences that appear so real to you, that they create that creeping fear.

Recognize your Fear

When it comes to fear, the best thing to do, always, is to face it, not run from it. Recognize your fear by doing the following.

1)     Make a list of the very things you’re afraid of about speaking in public

Are you afraid of making a mistake? Are you afraid of not being good enough? Are you afraid that you’ll forget what you have to say?

Try to find what it is, exactly, that you’re afraid of.

As yourself the question out loud. OK, what are you afraid of Jane or Joe?

See what answers you get.  Once you get your answers, make sure you acknowledge the source of your fear. Then try to dissipate it by replacing that fear by positive affirmations.  Reassure your brain that there’s no foundation for such fear.

For example, if your fear is that you’re going to have a big blank in the middle of your speech, make sure that you know what you’re going to talk about well. Practice it while walking, while driving, under the shower, as you’re falling asleep at night, and so on.  Practice it to the point that you will know that your speech is so much part of you that their no way it could escape you.

Plus when we talk about speech, what’s important is what you want to say, not every single specific word, as it’s the case in theater.  So, as long as you know what you want to say, there is no way you could lose that, because you know it so well.

Take each one of your fear, and work around them, until they have no reason for being anymore at all.

2)     Locate where the fear is in your body

Think about your fear of public speaking and try to locate where it is in your body. The most common places are stomach, guts or throat. but you could feel it anywhere, really.

Once you’ve located where your fear is in your body, do some breathing exercises, and relax your body as much as you can by imagining that your muscles are like rubber, or that you are lighter than gravity and floating above the ground.

Inhale and exhale, while letting go of your body for about 3 minutes. Do that every time that you feel your fear overcome you and before you give a speech.

Breathing and concentrating on your breathing will help you to take your mind off your fear and focus on your breathing. Remember, the brain can’t focus on two things at the same time.

3)     Be yourself

Be yourself as when you have no fear of speaking. How do you speak when you’re just talking to a few friends?  People relate to people, and the more you’ll just be yourself when you speak in public, the more people will be interested in what you’re saying, and react positively to your speech.

Once you feel your audience reacting positively to what you’re saying, your fear will melt like ice on a hot sunny ground. That I know for sure, as I’ve experienced it many times.

If you manage to learn how to dump the fear of public speaking by being YOU, it’s a wonderful feeling.  I’ve got addicted to public speaking a long time ago. I love it.

Now, am I completely relax when I speak in public? No.  But I’ve learned how to let go of the fear enough to be stronger than the fear, and enjoy this wonderful experience that public speaking is.

4)     Have Fun

If you can replace fear by fun, you’ll win every time. Fun is a killer of fear. Where there’s fun there’s no fear. If you can use your brain to convince yourself that public speaking is fun, your fear will melt away.

How do you do that? By visualizing yourself happy, smiling, standing tall, and being liked by your audience as you see yourself giving that speech. Remember that the way you visualize yourself doing that speech will impact the real thing tremendously.

Enjoy the experience. It’s fun and exciting. When you do public speaking, people are all ears, and you can express your message to them in such a way that could stay with them forever.

5)     Practice Energy Routine

There is an energy routine that you should practice each morning, but definitely before you give a public speech. Instead of giving you much details about it, I thought that a video would do a much better job. Please, watch this and learn those exercise, and practice them each day, and especially before you give a public speech.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please, give me your feedback in the comments area.

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18 Comments

  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Nice one indeed 🙂

    Yes, the fear of public speaking is something I had when I was in school too and it was due to lack of confidence…and nothing worked till I could overcome that fear.

    I did the same things you mentioned – fight the fear and this is something no one can help you with, except yourself. Looking into the mirror and self-talks using self affirmations and talking out loud to my sister as if she were the audience is what worked for me. However, I haven’t really tried public speaking as of recent, but whenever given the chance, I don’t think there would a problem now.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      I’m glad you’ve got that fear worked out and got rid of it. As I mentioned, most us have had fear of public speaking at one point or another. I’m glad it’s behind you now.

      Thanks for coming by.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..How To Overcome Your Fear Of Public SpeakingMy Profile

  • Corina RamosTwitter: notnowmomsbusy says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    When I worked as a Staff Manager I had to make presentations to the VP and President of the district in a meeting with all the area managers and managers to go over monthly results.

    It never failed their would be questions. I didn’t have a fear of public speaking but I got really nervous beforehand. And it was because of the reasons you listed like fear of making a mistake or just going blank. Once I got into it though, I was able to overcome it but boy those minutes leading to my presentation were awful.

    Another thing that helped me was being prepared. I practiced what I would say, prepare talking points and have reports to back up data.

    Thanks for sharing this exercise with me. I’m not planning on doing any public speaking but I’m definitely using this as practice for training my brain. I was just telling Harleena in a comment how I’m realizing how much power the mind has…I’m probably late to the party but it’s just fascinating. ;).

    I hope you’re having an awesome week!
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Corina,

      I can only imagine your fear prior the presentation, which thankfully subsided as you went on. It was the same with me during my theater years. Before the presentation it was no fun. I had a big ball in my stomach, but that fear melted always in just a few minutes once I was on stage, and then the fun could start and I was totally enjoying it, and didn’t want it to end.

      Indeed, you can practice those exercises whether or not you have a public speech to give. They are good healthy practice exercises on a regular basis.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..How To Overcome Your Fear Of Public SpeakingMy Profile

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    You know I have this fear and I guess it started when I was young.

    My grandmother had a bedroom built over their garage and all the grandkids would sleep out there with an adult of course. We use to put on plays for our parents and although it was just in a bedroom there were 9 grandkids so there were plenty of us there. I was SO excited about doing my part, seriously but when I got up there I froze. I couldn’t speak, I forgot everything and I’ve had that fear ever since. I think at that age I never put confidence to that because I seriously was so excited to be a part of it.

    When I had a test at school I would get knots in my stomach and I would get physically sick before the test and most of the time I didn’t remember crap. I did the same thing later in life when I was working for an insurance brokerage firm. In order for me to move up in the company I had to take four classes and pass them all even though what was taught had nothing to do with my job. I still had to pass the tests and the morning of the first one I threw up, got to the test and forget everything I had learned.

    I then went and took a memory course to help me and it did because I then went back, took them all and passed.

    I have the same thing happening though when I try and get up in front of people. I just get physically sick and I think that subconsciously I must remember that I forgot everything as a kid so who wants to embarrass themselves in front of all those people. Not me so yeah, it’s something I’ve just shied away from but luckily for me it’s my choice to accept this challenge or not. For now I’d just rather not.

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I can tell that this problem of yours is totally subconscious, as no one gets naturally physically sick because of test or public presentation, but only some subconscious false beliefs could accomplish such thing.

      Yes, I would bet that this innocent experience as a kid, marked your subconscious mind right then and there, and that belief is one that you would need to remove at a subconscious level. So, if one day you want to, you can totally remove this false belief. That’s all it is.

      Thank you for sharing this. I know you’ve told me about that before, but thank you for sharing it here on this post.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..How To Overcome Your Fear Of Public SpeakingMy Profile

  • GladysTwitter: coachgladys says:

    Hello Ms. Sylviane

    I trust you are well.
    Thank you for sharing your post on overcoming the fear of public speaking.
    When I was taking my certification to become a life coach, one of the things that our professor recommended to all the students, was to take a class on public speaking.

    I joined the Toastmasters Association and at the beginning it was difficult, but I stood with it and made it up to Bronze Level. Now I am not saying it was easy, it was hard, because like you pointed out, it is lacking the confidence.

    Your points are excellent and when I was ready to give a speech, I would practice with everyone or in front of the mirror. It created confidence within me and slowly I started progressing.

    I also enjoyed your video on relaxing and allowing the energies to flow and not stay trapped inside.
    Thank you for this great article.
    Gladys
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Gladys,

      Congratulations on your progress as a public speaker. Public speaking is not easy, by any means, because it requires self-control and self-confidence of course.

      Even though I’ve practice lot of public speaking I am going to join some toastmaster too. There are excellent practice indeed.

      I hope you’re doing well too, and thanks for coming, Glady 🙂
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  • Alexis Marlons says:

    I used to fear public speaking when I was still studying. I never had that enough nerve to be brave in front of the public. These days, I am not really sure if I have improve my confidence. But I surely will try your suggestions Sylvianne and share it to my kids as well.

  • Angela McCallTwitter: angeld0ve says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Wow!!! 8 years of acting and 10 years of speech. Awesome!!! You know I’m not much of a public speaker. But in my early 20s, I was a Youth Leader and oftentimes I had to speak in front. Introduce the 2nd Sabbath afternoon, organize games, assign special music, and so forth. I have done singing in church, funeral, and weddings from time to time. I think the more you do it in front of people, the better you are.

    So far I’m out of practice. It’s been awhile since I am in that stadium. Gotta do it again. I think when you know something by heart, like a personal testimony at church, it’s easier to speak in front. It’s like you’re telling a story to a good friend. But if I am to speak something before like a Microbiology research of some sort, I would be very nervous. Guess I have to think what I have to say first and make sure I have index cards to summarize what I’m going to say.

    Speaking in public is not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, it’s easier to sing in front than to make a speech. Some people are just a natural. But for me, it is something I have to learn. Anyway, thank you for sharing us your nuggets. Appreciate it very much. Wishing you a lovely weekend…

    Angela
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Angea and nice to see you here.

      Right, for some people (few of them) public speaking comes naturally, but for most of us, it was a learning process. It sur wasn’t a natural thing for me. I had to adapt, and learn tricks to cool down. I still practice what I mention on this post if I need to speak in front of people.

      By the way, now that you are talking about singing and I’ve just heard your voice yesterday on your video, you’ve got a superb voice. I wish I could sing like that!

      Thank you for your input.
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  • MarkTwitter: coach2coachguy says:

    Hi Sylviane!

    Have you also heard it said that some people actually go as far as rating “fear of public speaking” over the fear of dying?

    Most people really don’t like to do it on any level. Thank you for sharing your proven tips. I particularly found point # two very interesting. I’ve never heard anyone say or advocate that you locate where the “fear” is in your body!

    I just always presumed in was basically located in your stomach, because of that feeling you get whenever you’re about to speak!LOL!

    But without a doubt, all five tips are extremely helpful, but especially #’s 3-5.

    Thanks so much for sharing. And I’ll bet all those years of theater have really come in handy, now that you’re doing public speaking in other areas.

    And the video was very informative as well! It’s simply amazing how many different areas of specialties there really are!

  • Charmie says:

    When I was a kid I used to have great fear to speak publicly and one of my teachers taught me a beautiful trick that whenever you are on stage just imagine that no one is listening to you and looking at you, and indeed this magical trick still works for me.

  • apu mridha says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing and informative article … enjoyed every bit of it .. 🙂

    Apu

  • David Blum, Public Speaking Trainer says:

    I ask my students if they have fear of speaking to people one-on-one. They almost always answer “no”. I then suggest they think about speaking in front of a group in terms of having short, one-on-one conversations with individuals in the audience. I love seeing their eyes light up with the realization that “hey, that might just work!” And it does work; this simple re-framing works extremely well for overcoming stage fright while public speaking.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi David,

      That’s a great tip, indeed. Fear of speaking is most like any other type of fears which is “irrational” or “unfounded” in most cases, so by giving such example we can really help people see that it can be overcome.

      Thank you for sharing your tip here.
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