Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common phobias. It is typically classified as social anxiety disorder or social phobia. People fear public speaking more than drowning, needles, snakes, heights, and even death. And it’s extremely common. While some people manage to shake off mild stage fright, others find the fear of public speaking to be debilitating.
Despite the fact that public speaking often terrifying, it’s a vital skill for everyone, especially potential entrepreneurs and business owners who must be able to have to get up in front of a crowd to make a pitch, present an idea, or close a deal.
If you’re afraid of public speaking, there are steps you can take to overcome your fear and improve your public speaking skills.
1. Perform Your Speech in front of a Mirror
This sounds very basic, but this is indeed the best practice ever. Practice your speech in front of a mirror as if you were speaking directly to someone. When you speak in front of a mirror, you can see the way your mouth and face move as well as your other body language. Talking to your reflection can make you feel like you are having a conversation and will encourage you to experiment with expansive vocabulary and new topics. When you’re doing this practice, pay attention to your:
- Your facial expressions
- Your gestures
- Your body movements
- How welcoming you appear
2. Practice, Practice and More Practice
All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. The best way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to practice, practice and more practice. Write out a script of your key points, take the time to go over your notes several times, but don’t read from the script word for word. Once you have become comfortable with the material, there comes plenty of practice. Nothing takes the place of practising and preparing for your speech.
3. Work on Your Breath
Sometimes when speaking, we also tend to ramble. Working on your breathing will help you learn how to pace yourself in your speech so you don’t ramble or speed through at a pace your audience can’t keep up with. Deep breathing before and during your presentation or pitch calms your nerves and adds power and strength to your voice. Breathe calmly and focus on getting into a rhythm. When you focus on your breathing, your voice will have more resonance, and you will relax.
4. Record and Learn
Video recording can be a great way to help you self-evaluate your speech, and you can do it in the comfort of your own house. Recording yourself speaking allows you to see what the audience will be seeing. It helps you to become aware of how serious or confident you are looking while delivering your speech. Watching your own speaking provides immediate feedback if there’s anything wrong with your speech. Watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better. Some people do not like listening to the sound of voice on tape, so it is important that you get used to your own voice and speaking style.
5. Have Someone Review Your Presentation
Sometimes we get in our own heads about our presentations, and it can be helpful to have someone we are close with who can still review the speech and provide objective feedback before presenting in front of the audience. Giving a mock presentation of your speech in advance will make it easier to determine if you’re organizing the information cohesively and clearly. Also, starting small with an audience of one who can give you objective feedback will help you visualize how to deliver your speech correctly just by speaking to that one person.
6. Always Seek Improvement
No one ever stops growing. Even if you gave the best speech possible, there are always ways to improve. Focus on delivering the best speech you can at this point, then go back, review, and find a way to learn to improve your next speech. Ask someone to record your speech, watch it and make notes on how you can improve on it for next time. Here are some areas for you to look into when trying to improve your public speaking skill.
- How do you think you did?
- Are there areas you think you could have improved?
- Did you seem stiff or make any weird facial expressions?
- Did you use “um” often?
- How was your rhythm?
Now that you have actionable ways to manage and minimize your fear of public speaking with these tips, it’s time to get speaking! Remember, good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting the effort to prepare ahead of time will help you to deliver a better speech.