Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and is one of the most common of all phobias. National statistics show that in 2013 74% of the population experienced some level of speech anxiety, and this is regardless of gender. More often than not it goes hand in hand with social anxiety. In both instances the anxiety is driven by the fear of saying the wrong thing, being judged negatively, and not being liked by others.

Speaking is a major form of communication for the human species. It is how we express our opinions, thoughts, and feelings, which are the very things that define who we are. Technically we are all public speakers, and the anxiety that arises stems from caring or worrying about what others think of us. At the end of the day we all just want to be liked.

In a work situation it is completely normal to feel nervous before a presentation. However if you are paralysed by fear this can be incredibly detrimental. Some people are natural born speakers, whilst others need time to develop this skill. But just like riding a bike, the more you practice the better you become! And it really is an invaluable skill to have, not only in the workplace, but also in personal relationships.
If you suffer from a fear of public speaking and wish to work on alleviating your anxiety, here are some useful tips:

1. Know the topic that you are speaking about. If you are standing up in front of people, this means they want to learn something from you. Develop a plan for how to give a couple of key messages, clearly and concisely.

2. Eliminate the expression “what if” from your lexicon. “What if I sound stupid?” “What if I get asked a question I don’t know the answer to?” “What if I sweat too much?” Again, these thoughts stem from worrying about what others think of you, and also your assumption that you will fail. Manage your nerves by challenging these unhelpful negative thoughts that are ultimately creating further anxiety for you. Remember, the calmer you are, the better your presentation will be!

3. Be yourself. Whatever the presentation is about, let your personality shine through. If you try to be someone you are not, your audience will pick up on this. The more you remain true to who you are, the more relaxed and engaging you will be.

4. Your brain absorbs what you tell it to, so visualise yourself coping and doing a great job. Having positive affirmations or reading inspirational material, or watching clips on YouTube of others delivering presentations, can help you gain confidence.

5. Interact with your audience and be open to their feedback. Speak confidently with your audience, not arrogantly at them. Ask questions that can assist you in becoming better at your next public speaking engagement.

6. See public speaking as a fantastic opportunity rather than a dreaded battle!

For more help with public speaking, grab a copy of a self help book that Dr Aileen Alegado has been a contributor to “Picture Them Naked: Everything you ever wanted to know about presenting and public speaking but were afraid to ask” authored by J. Burrows available now from www.amazon.com

*This article is also published on www.icreatepositivity.com

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