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Public speaking fear is more common than many people realize. Indeed, studies have revealed that nearly 75% of the population battle with this situation. Of course, the severity varies in each case.
For some people, the fear is limited to the feeling of slight nervousness that creeps up at the slightest mention of public speaking. And there are some who experience a panic attack when faced with such a situation.
A lot of people go to a great extent to avoid public speaking altogether due to their fear. However, the truth is it's entirely possible to beat this public speaking fear. All you need is persistence and preparation. As said by Eleanor Roosevelt,
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’.”
Let's dig deep into this phobia and find out how you can tackle it in the best way possible.
Unraveling The Effects Of Public Speaking Fear
Why is it so vital to conquer your fear of public speaking? What happens when someone with a phobia of speaking publicly takes over the stage?
"It is not failure itself that holds you back; it is the fear of failure that paralyzes you."- Brian Tracy
Typically, the quality of delivery is severely affected. Nervous speakers either speak too quickly or fail to make eye contact with the audience, preferring to focus on the floor or their slides.
Those with public speaking fear tend to present their speech in a rather flat voice with no variations or excitement. All their focus is on simply getting over the thing as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this paves the way for even more problems.
For one thing, talking too fast interferes with your breathing. Some people even hold their breath as they go through their speech! The person starts feeling as though he is unable to breathe, which further elevates his fear.
Furthermore, talking quickly prevents the audience from being connected to what you have to say. They struggle to grasp the meaning of your speech. Hence, all your efforts prove to be futile since your message doesn't get conveyed.
A lot of nervous speakers believe that if they ignore the audience, their anxiety will be suppressed. But this tactic never really works out. If you avoid eye contact with your audience, you won't be able to gauge their reaction.
If that wasn't enough, evading eye contact will give you more time to focus on your own thoughts. And since public speaking is something you fear, your thoughts are bound to be more damaging.
Why Is It Important To Overcome Public Speaking Fear?
You might be wondering why it is so vital to speak publicly. So what if you are a nervous speaker? Will it really affect your quality of life? Indeed!
"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."- Jack Canfield
Let's be clear about one thing. Verbal communication is an invaluable part of your career. Yes, if you want to flourish in your career, you will need to polish your communication skills. As entrepreneurs, we strive for excellence, and this will become pretty challenging until you overcome your public speaking fear.
Most human resource directors believe that employees who can't develop their social skills are unlikely to become high performers. Speaking confidently in public increases the chances of growth in your career at a rapid pace.
And public speaking helps in every professional field. Even if you have your own business, you will need to have frequent meetings with investors and potential clients. You will have to explain your idea and vision to them. How can you expect them to show confidence in your talent when you appear nervous talking about it?
The Secret Behind Public Speaking Fear
Naturally, if you want to deal with something for good, you have to reach its root. Where does this public speaking fear stem from? Research reveals that there are four triggers of anxiety during public speaking.
- You are standing alone
- You are vulnerable, with no place to hide
- Perhaps you feel as though you are defenseless with no weapon
- A large crowd is staring at you
Nervous speakers develop a dry mouth and shallow breathing. They experience raised blood pressure and palpitations. Some even feel their upper back muscles stiffening as they struggle to get the words out.
Needless to say, everyone will want to do their best to evade being in such a situation. Luckily, it's entirely possible with a little bit of effort.
How To Conquer Public Speaking Fear?
Keep one thing in mind. Things won't change overnight. Overcoming your fear of public speaking is a gradual process. You have to take one step at a time. But eventually, you will come to a stage wherein speaking in front of a large crowd won't leave you overtaken by the nerves. As Nelson Mandela famously said,
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Here are some tips that can help you out.
Challenge Your Beliefs
Most nervous speakers believe that they can't present an impactful speech. Whenever such a situation arises, they are flooded with thoughts about how they aren't a good speaker and would never be able to connect with the audience.
It's time that you challenge these negative misconceptions and focus on filling your mind with positivity. Every time you feel you are being held back by the demons in your brain, fill your mind with proactive and favorable statements. The goal is to thwart negative thinking for good.
Focus on convincing yourself that there's nothing really threatening about public speaking and you have the talent to shine in this situation. You will be surprised how quickly your brain adapts to this line of thinking.
Prepare A Script But Avoid Memorizing
One of the most common reasons people are nervous about speaking publicly is that they are apprehensive about forgetting what they have to say. And this fear isn't unfounded. Indeed, even the most notable speakers have had such experiences wherein they have forgotten what they wanted to say and panicked on stage.
The idea is undoubtedly daunting. It might seem comforting to have a script that you can follow. However, more often than not, the script prevents you from connecting with your audience. And if you forget even a single word, you start to panic.
"You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart."- John Ford
Therefore, prepare your script in the form of bullet points or connecting sentences and use them to remind yourself what you want to say. This will ensure that your speech sounds more organic. Additionally, you won't panic or get nervous if you lose your place for a while.
Learn To Calm Your Body
Whenever you are in a situation you fear, your body automatically produces a series of physiological activities. Hence, one of the most effective ways of combatting public peaking phobia is learning to relax as you prepare for the session.
The relaxation techniques you use should revolve around controlling your breathing and lowering your heart rate. They should also reduce the tension in your muscles. Once you master the relaxation techniques, pair them with gradual exposure to public speaking.
There's no reason to put an excessive burden on yourself. Practice the techniques when you are preparing to present your speech. Increase the scale of your audience gradually. It's best to start with more straightforward speeches before moving on to something more complicated.
Remember Your Talent
There's a reason that you are on the stage and have been invited to share your opinion. Your expertise and knowledge are valued, and people believe you to be the authority in your field. They have trust and confidence in your ability.
Keep reminding yourself what you are capable of. Remember, the audience isn't there to make things worse for you. In fact, they have attended the event to learn something from you.
Avoid Excessive Use Of Technology
Of course, it's scary to forget your speech when on stage. However, you should learn to quickly trust your brain to come up with something on the fly. And if you can't, what should you do if technology fails you?
For one thing, always ensure that you have a backup of your presentation. Be prepared for technology fails like slides not loading or projector not working. Have printouts of the presentation in hand for the audience to ensure that your flow isn't interrupted.
Practice As Much As Possible
There's only one way to polish your communication skills, and that's to practice. Don't let any opportunity slip away.
When you have a public speaking session coming up, practice for it over and over again, in front of the mirror, and your friends and family too. Don't be disappointed if they share some negative feedback. Take it as an opportunity to improve.
You can also join some virtual reality apps wherein you can prepare for public speaking sessions with ease.
The best way to conquer something you feel is to face it with courage. As you speak publically more often, your confidence will improve, and you will also learn how to improve yourself.
Face Your Public Speaking Fear And Let Your Talent Shine!
"Do that which you fear to do and the fear will die."- Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's natural that you would want to avoid something you fear. But that approach won't get you too far. Why limit your talent when you can achieve so much more?
Confront your fears and ensure that you un-tap your full potential. The fear will continue to haunt you until you decide to take matters into your own hands and do something about it. It's up to you to decide how to face your public speaking fear and put it to rest for good.
Catch you on the flip,
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