There are THREE responses to the fear of public speaking.
The TWO most common responses are to:
1. AVOID the fear, don't speak and seek FLIGHT from it
2. OPPOSE the fear when speaking by FIGHTING the fear
These are discussed in detail on the page the SYMPTOMS of the fear of public speaking
The THIRD response, the one less travelled but most CREATIVE and POSITIVE response, is to:
3. LEARN to overcome the FEAR of PUBLIC SPEAKING
It is this response that will bring life-long rewards.
It is possible to LEARN to overcome the fear of public speaking.
The KEY is to
We are sensitive to new situations. Each time we present and expose ourselves to this new situation, we reduce our sensitivity and increase our confidence.
An example is learning a new skill, eg juggling. At first we are afraid of looking foolish and dropping the balls. But as each attempt is completed, we approach the next attempt more certain, and less sensitive.
You will have your own examples: learning to drive, learn a new sport (eg golf or football), that first day (a new job, starting school or College).
It is important to persist, to have repeated attempts and exposures to the new event.
The result is a reduced sensitivity or 'desensitising' of your fears.
Incidentally, this is how phobias are treated, eg arachnophobia (yeh .. fear of spiders). Through gradual exposure, and desensitising.
A VERY safe place to desensitise yourself from your fear of public speaking is Toastmasters. Here people just like you are learning in a self-supportive environment to reduce their fear of public speaking.
If the time of Toastmasters is difficult, then seek opportunities to expose yourself to your fear at work, at sport, at the Club etc. Simply meet your fear where you are at the moment: meet a new person, speak at a gathering of three, propose a toast at a luncheon, make a point at a meeting ...
How do you continue to reduce sensitivity?
Simply by repeated exposure to the activity or event.
Looking at juggling again ... With repeated exposure, practice, fewer balls are dropped, and confidence builds. Before you know it, you are juggling. And before you know it, you are exposing yourself to harder challenges.
So it is with the fear of public speaking, by placing yourself in a situation where you can receive repeated exposure to speaking, your fears will reduce and AMAZING confidence will blossom.
Again, Toastmasters is ideal. But if this is not possible, simply seek more opportunities at your work, sport, amongst family and friends ...
Before you know it, your fear will subside and confidence will grow. I know this as I have been there.
Strategies that assist include:
Prior to the presentation:
- Being fit. Being rested and alert are important.
- Know the environment in which you will speak. If it is a strange room, visit it, walk where you will walk, sit where you may sit.
- Think about the members who will be in your audience.
Visualise their approval, their attention to your words. See them nodding as they consider them. If suitable see and hear them applauding.
- Go for a walk prior to your presentation.
- Build a cushion of time into your day to ensure you are not rushed and you have extra time.
- Have some notes in your pocket if they are required.
- Check how you look in a mirror.
At the Lecturn ...
- If you feel your legs trembling, simply hold the table or lecturn.
- If you are to use notes, don't hold them as your hands may shake. Use single sheets or better use three-by-five inch (8 by 12 cms) cards instead.
- Don't initially hold the microphone.
- Look at the audience, use eye contact. By doing this you will feel less isolated.
- When you look at the audience, look at the friendliest faces.
Remember, nervousness does not show
one-tenth as much as it feels.
To LEARN other
strategies to overcome that fear...