Most people find it scary to speak in public or in front of an audience. Public speaking is one of the most common fears, and in America, 75% of the general public has a fear of speaking. It may be one of people’s biggest fears – but it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do as a professional, expert, or coach.
How do you overcome the fear of public speaking?
First, let’s look at the fears related to public speaking and try to understand why public speaking is so scary.
Ways to Overcome the Fear of Speaking
1. The fear of judgment
Most people are afraid that they will be judged or criticised by their audience, which can lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame, which in itself is a scary thing. This is particularly prominent for people who are just starting out in public speaking. The possible fear of going red on stage or forgetting your words.
How to overcome it? I always say to people I coach in public speaking: Take a moment to visualise the person who you are trying to connect with. Imagine their fears, their needs, and what they want to hear from you as a speaker. Make it less about you and more about the audience. When your focus is on the audience, your focus can not be on you – so the fear of judgment disappears because you are not focusing on yourself.
2. Lack of Confidence
Some people lack confidence in public speaking because they do not have a lot of experience. So they worry about their ability to deliver a speech effectively or to engage their audience, which can cause them to feel nervous or self-conscious.
How to overcome it? Confidence comes with experience, therefore, you need to start doing more public speaking in order to overcome this fear and become better at speaking. If you have never spoken in public before, start with smaller groups, practice by recording yourself on camera, ask to deliver a presentation at work or run a small group workshop to get into practice. The more you do it, the less afraid you will be. Boosting your confidence is a great way to end your fear of speaking.
3. Fear of Failure
People may be afraid that they will forget their speech, make mistakes or fail to deliver their message effectively, which can cause anxiety and stress in public speaking
How to overcome it? The truth is, even the most experienced speakers make mistakes, forget their words or fail to deliver something they intended to. The good news is the audience has no idea how it is supposed to be, as long as you do not tell them. In fact, people find it more relatable when people on stage are not perfect, so if something does go wrong, acknowledge it, make a joke out of it, and let the audience see the funny side of life. Nothing is so serious and people are not here to judge us as speakers, as much as we think they are.
4. Lack of Preparation
Inadequate preparation can lead to anxiety, stress, and nervousness, making public speaking a more difficult and nerve-wracking experience.
How to overcome it? Never go on stage unprepared. Even the most experienced and professional speakers should be doing preparation before delivering a speech. Even if you are an expert in your field, public speaking requires preparation because every audience, every stage, and every speaking engagement will have different needs. Never assume that the talk you delivered a week ago at another engagement will be suitable for this engagement.
This is the most common pitfall of experienced speakers because they have been doing it for so long that they take it for granted that they know how to deliver their topic, however as mentioned above, every audience will have different needs and the best bet is to do as much research and preparation as possible before every speaking engagement.
5. Perceived Importance
Sometimes, people may attach too much importance to their speech or the speaking opportunity they have been given, which can increase their anxiety and fear of speaking.
How to overcome the fear of speaking? My favourite way to overcome the ‘importance of the stage’ is to remind yourself why you are the expert in your field and why you have been asked to deliver that speech. In most cases, you will most likely be the most knowledgeable in that area of expertise, and the audience genuinely wants to know what you have to say.
Before going on to deliver important talks, most people will experience some kind of fear of public speaking or start to feel imposter, the most important thing is to stand in the authority of your expertise and lean on your personal experiences of that subject. Make it fun and interesting by sharing your knowledge so people can relate, and never ‘hide’ behind your knowledge by using complex terms or trying to overcompensate the audience with too much information.
Overall, public speaking is a skill that requires practice, preparation, and confidence. With the right mindset and approach, anyone can improve their public speaking abilities and become a more confident and effective public speaker.
Want to learn more about public speaking and build your skills to become a paid speaker? Join our Speaker’s Academy,
Name: Raimonda Jan
Bio: Raimonda Jankunaite is the founder and host of the Women Thrive Media & the annual Women Thrive Summit, which is hosted every year to mark Women’s History Month to empower women to thrive. Every year we celebrate and highlight the achievements of women globally.