“Glossophobia”, that’s the medical term for stage fright; the fear of speaking publicly which according to research affects 28.4% of the adults in the U.S. Its symptoms range from knots in the stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth, shaky legs, to tightness in the throat. In fact, in some extreme cases, Glossophobics experience nausea, panic attacks and excessive anxiety. They therefore sometimes go to great lengths to avoid speaking in public.
Although it often stimulates fear, it’s a vital skill every potential entrepreneur and business owners must develop. You should be able to get up in front of a crowd to make a pitch, present an idea, or close a deal.
- Why are people afraid of public speaking?
- What can be done about it?
That’s what we’ll be looking at today. You have to learn to control the feelings you have before a speech or presentation – worrying what people will think of you, worrying that you will stumble over the words or forget what to say. Once you can learn to control these feelings, the fear will no longer be an issue for you. Here are proven steps to help you handle and eventually overcome the fear of public speaking.
1. Try to speak from your heart
When you find yourself facing an audience, try to talk about your own experiences. Tell your own personal and true stories. This can really help to impart information and inspire others. It’s not until you complicate your language before you sound like you know what you’re talking about if not, you’ll lose your audience.
2. Prepare yourself mentally for speaking
Say you’ve got a presentation to make before a very large audience, try visualizing the venue and audience, then replicate the experience of speaking to them. Make sure you rehearse your presentation under a performance-like pressure to help build confidence. For a high-stakes presentation, do this at least five times, at spaced intervals, to encode your material in long-term memory. That way, you’re well prepared mentally for the speaking engagement.
3. Stay conscious of your breath
This simple advice cannot be emphasized enough. Staying conscious of your breath gives you control of your nerves. Try deep breathing before and during your presentation or pitch. This will calm your nerves, and add power and strength to your voice, keep your voice-centered, and prevents dangerous up-talk which weakens your credibility and confidence. Try standing with your feet in a wide parallel stance and with your arms up before speaking in front of a crowd and then taking five deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
4. Know that public speaking is a skill and not a talent
You can’t outsource public speaking; as an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to be the face of your business – Allison Shapira (Founder/CEO of Global Public Speaking)
You don’t have to be born a natural public speaker. It’s a vital skill you’ll need to learn about promoting your brand as a businessman. Set aside time for practice daily to constantly keep improving yourself because as the head of a business, you’re the one who is going to have to be on stage. Therefore, you have to practice, practice, and practice.
5. Be yourself and have a good time
Don’t put on a front, or else, the audience will pick up on it. Develop a style that is distinct to your personality, and never imitate styles. If you are passionate about your topic and are excited to present to others, it will be infectious. If you are having fun as a speaker, your audience will have fun observing your speech.
6. Be patient with yourself and don’t overthink
It’s not easy to speak publicly so take time, and patience to perfect your skills. Make sure you’re well rehearsed, trust yourself, and get on with it. Don’t monitor your own performance while speaking if you don’t want to choke. One reason people often experience anxiety before a presentation is the fear that they’ll be asked questions that might not be able to answer. Don’t allow yourself to be caught off guard. Think carefully of what potential questions might arise and rehearse your best answers before the presentation. That way, you’re overly prepared.
7. Practice your transition words well
It’s also necessary that you practice your transitions – the words that link one idea in your presentation to the next. They are easy to forget if you don’t practice them causing your presentation to end up being disconnected. The words will guide your listeners through your story. Some examples: “Now that we have established …”; “This leads us to …”
8. Use pause frequently
While doing your presentation, you can over overcome stuttering by using pauses. This will help you regain your composure whenever you’re gripped by anxiety. A few strategic pauses between points have a calming effect.
A final thought. Replace the time you spend on worrying, with the time spent on preparing thoroughly for your presentation. Be sure to develop and craft your key company messages. Just before you start your speech, breathe in, counting up to seven, and breathe out when you reach eleven. Do this three to four times. It will help slow the build-up of adrenaline and reduces your heart rate, thereby reducing feelings of nervousness or anxiety. Was this article helpful? Have you been in a similar situation? Share with us how you overcame your fear of public speaking in the comments.