Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

By: Juliet Nabinger

According to the National Social Anxiety Center, the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia. More people are afraid of public speaking than spiders, heights, or even death. But why is this fear so prevalent? Psychiatrists credit the underlying fear of being judged by others as to why so many people suffer from this social phobia. Despite being so common, there are some simple ways to overcome your fear and become the confident public speaker of your wildest dreams. 

No matter what the industry or profession, public speaking is an essential skill to have in your arsenal. Eventually, there will come a day where you’re selected to make that presentation or pitch to clients. This is nothing to be afraid of. Conquering your fear and honing in on your public speaking skills will only help your career and put you a step above the competition. 

The key to public speaking is the three P’s: Plan, Prepare, and Practice! The majority of your fear surrounding public speaking can be easily aided with the proper planning, preparedness, and practice. 

Plan out your presentation carefully. Know exactly what points you want to emphasize and what the primary message of your presentation should be. Keep your primary message in mind while crafting your entire presentation.

Prepare for questions and interruptions. A good presentation will leave the audience satisfied, but a great presentation will inspire the audience to ask questions. Be prepared to elaborate on specific points, a great way to do this is to try to craft a list of questions you might expect to receive. Prepare your answers to these questions so when you inevitably get asked them, you know your answer and sound knowledgeable and professional.  

The final step, practice! Think about it, if you have to present to your boss, but never rehearsed what you’re going to say, you’d probably feel as if you had a pit in your stomach. Practice your presentation with family, friends, pets, or even aloud to yourself. You can plan and prepare until the cows come home, but if you’ve never actually run through the motions of your presentation, you’ll feel a heightened sense of nerves. 

While practicing, make sure your presentation is free of awkward pauses or phrasing and try to eliminate any, ‘ums’ or ‘likes’ from your presentation vocabulary. 

Now, after completing the three P’s, you might still feel nervous, and that’s okay! These steps are designed to alleviate the majority of your fear surrounding public speaking but the only sure way to become fear-free is repetition. If it’s your first time public speaking, even if you’ve completed the three P’s, it’s normal to experience nerves. In time, you’ll find the fear fading, ushering in a new phase of confidence and wowing every client you present to! 

Let us know your tips and tricks for public speaking!