Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking
I recently did a half day workshop on renovating your public speaking skills. I LOVE speaking about speaking. Every time I speak or coach others on this topic – I grow because I’m forced to look at my own work. I’m forced to critique my own speaking style – to take a look at where I need to improve and to notice what I do well. It’s challenging and inspiring.
In addition to being able to take a look at how I’m showing up – I get to watch people take risks and try new things with speaking. I love to watch someone who comes in terrified of standing before a group take the risk and do it and then realize it wasn’t so bad. I’m inspired by their courage and by the way groups embrace team members when they take a risk. And I find that most of the time what we fear most about speaking doesn’t happen. In fact sometimes good things happen that people never expected.
No matter where you’re at with your public speaking skills – we can all improve. We all need to check in with ourselves from time to time and assess how we’re showing up in the world and what we may need renovation. Below are some tips to help you overcome your fear of speaking.
Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Speaking:
- BREATHE. Stop and breathe. Nervousness is slowed down when we take in a deep breath. Make sure to breathe deeply before going on stage and then stop purposefully from time to time and slow your breathing down while you are speaking.
- Tell yourself the truth. Most of what we fear is unrealistic and simply not true. Listen to your self talk around presenting and identify what is true and what is a lie.
- Realize they want you to succeed. People don’t come into a presentation hoping you’ll fail. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable for the audience if a speaker fails. They want you to succeed – they want to be engaged even if they don’t act like it.
- Begin connecting before you speak. As soon as you arrive start making connections with the audience. Greet them as they come. Ask them questions about themselves. Make friends early. Even just making eye contact with people as they are coming into the room will help you to feel connected. Meeting people and connecting with them prior to your presentation makes everyone more comfortable.
- Look at one person at a time. The old rule of looking above the crowd doesn’t work. To connect with an audience look individuals in the eye while you are talking. Don’ts stare or keep eye contact with one person for too long but make sure you are not talking above their heads.
- Give yourself a break. We’re our own worst critics. Step back and look at yourself without judgement. Be curious with compassion. Beating yourself up and or ripping apart every little thing will not move you forward.
- Smile. It’s a little thing that goes a long way. If you get stuck – stop and smile. Before you start – stop and smile at the audience.