Whether it’s a group of five people or an audience of hundreds, speaking to a crowd isn’t for the faint of heart. From butterflies in your stomach to a full-fledged panic attack, the idea of speaking in public is enough to strike terror in your heart. In fact, glossophobia–or the fear of public speaking–is one of the most common phobias across all of humankind.
So if you start to panic when you think of talking to a crowd, you’re not alone. In multiple polls, public speaking is often rated as scarier than dying. Yes–the fear of public speaking can be that intense!
Now, if you have a speaking engagement coming up and you’re looking for ways to manage the feelings that could be coming up, we’re here to help.
Here are some of our favorite, most practical stress-management tips for public speaking.
Whether it’s public speaking or skydiving, being prepared can save you a LOT of stress.
Knowing your speech is planned out, or at the very least, loosely outlined, can give you a lot of peace of mind before a public speaking engagement. Seasoned public speakers might happily talk to a crowd of thousands off the cuff, but this tactic doesn’t work for most people.
Write out your speech ahead of time and practice it (ideally in front of people) as much as possible, and you’ll head into your engagement with a lot more confidence in what you’re about to do.
Another element of managing the fear of public speaking is having an extensive understanding of your topic. And no, this doesn’t just mean memorizing what you’re going to say about the topic!
If you’re being asked to speak about a particular topic, chances are you are already well-versed on the subject. Try writing out what you know about the subject, even in point form, that isn’t included in your speech.
This will demonstrate to you how well prepared you truly are, and it also gives you other talking points should you need them.
Speaking to a crowd of 100 hundred strangers likely feels scarier than talking to one person you don’t know.
Before your speaking engagement, visualize your audience members. If it helps, give them stories and personas that highlight why they’re attending your speech, and how your content will benefit them.
When it comes time to actually speak, focus on making eye contact with particular audience members as you present. Often, these moments of human connection can help ground you and present more confidently and calmly.
While a public speaking engagement might be the biggest, scariest thing you do all year, chances are it isn’t so monuments to your audience.
Use this to your advantage!
Remind yourself that they probably hear lots of people speak, and if your speech doesn’t particularly resonate with them, it’s not the end of the world.
Often, your audience will be a lot more generous than we assume, so it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Perspective is also your friend when it comes to fumbling things up during your speech.
If you need to take a moment to recoup, remind yourself this really is just a moment. While it might feel like an eternity to you, to your audience, it might just look like you’re taking a deep breath. If you do need a moment to collect yourself, that’s okay! Take this time to sip some water and take some deep breaths.
Now, you might be wondering how a fear of public speaking can be used to your advantage. But remember this: fear is a form of energy, and energy is incredibly useful during a presentation!
To refocus this energy, try doing some deep stretching, like lunges or side bends, immediately before your presentation. Your heart might already be racing, but moves like this can help centre you and focus this energy on other parts of your body than your nervous stomach and racing heart.
What’s the best outcome from your public speaking engagement? A standing ovation from the audience? Or simply getting through it without passing out from the fear of public speaking?
Whatever it is, visualize your best possible outcome over and over again leading up to the presentation.
These positive thoughts can actually help alleviate some of your anxiety, and improve the quality of your thoughts surrounding the event.
If part of your fear of public speaking comes from being the centre of attention and focus, know there are ways to divide this focus with audience engagement tools.
During your public speaking engagement, consider using live polling software or other audience engagement software like gamification and quizzes. This can help your audience shift their eyes to a screen instead of directly on you, while also ensuring their focus stays on the content of your presentation.
Now, we want to hear from you! How do you manage your fear of public speaking? What are your favorite public speaking tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments down below!
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