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Overcome your Fear of Public Speaking – in 5 Easy Steps

Kristie Lorette asked:

The number one fear that most people have is public speaking. More people fear speaking to an audience than death. Isn’t that amazing? Some people would rather die than make a speech. That is pretty powerful stuff! The thing about fear is that you can overcome it no matter what type of fear you have.

There are 5 steps that you can take to overcome your fear of speaking to a group:

1. Prepare your speech, visual aids, and presentations ahead of time. Do not try to wing it.

2. Practice your speech as if you are really giving it to an audience.

3. Have props.

4. Don’t fear your audience.

5. Relax, take a deep breath, and be confident.

1. Prepare your speech, visual aids and presentations ahead of time. Do not try to wing it.

The speech itself is just the grand finale. It’s the preparation for the speech that is the really hard work. In order to prepare for your speech you really need to know what audience you will be speaking to, what you will be talking about, and in what conditions you will be speaking. Will you be giving a speech to your classmates on the benefits of forensic accounting, where you will have a podium and a projector for a PowerPoint presentation? Or will you be speaking to a lecture hall of 200 students on a stage with a microphone and no podium?

Do professional athletes just suit up on game day and head out to face their opponents without any preparation? No! They practice. They watch game tapes. They strategize. Nothing is left to chance because they have prepared for almost all of the possible scenarios that could take place during their game.

You have to do the same thing when you are preparing for a speech. The day you give your speech is your game day. The better prepared you are greatly reduces the chance of failure or mistakes being made. This alone will make you feel more relaxed because you have covered all of your bases.

Outline

Prepare an outline or speaking points for you to follow along during your speech. Do not write your speech out in complete sentences and then try to memorize it or read it word for word.

Speaking points or bullet points are memory prompts that will allow you to move from one speaking point to another with a smooth transition. Even if you have visual aids like PowerPoint slides or transparencies, have a copy of your speaking points written or typed out on a piece of paper or index cards.

2. Practice your speech as if you are really giving it to an audience.

Once you have your speech prepared stand in front of a mirror and practice. Give your speech as if you are speaking to your audience. Saying it out loud will help you to refine and edit your speech where necessary. You should practice your speech over and over again until you feel very comfortable with it.

Use a friendly audience

Once you feel like you have practiced enough, try to give your speech to close friends or your family. This allows you to practice giving your speech in front of a “live” audience that can provide you with suggestions, ideas, and constructive criticism on things that you can do to make the speech even better.

3. Have props.

“Props” are kind of like the baby blanket that Linus drags around with him in Charlie Brown. In your case it isn’t going to be an actual security blanket. Your prop is going to be an outline of your speech, which shows your speaking points. Sometimes when people stand in front of an audience their mind goes blank because everyone is staring at them with anticipation of what they about to say. This won’t happen to you because even if your mind feels as if it has been erased you have your outline in your hot little hands to get you rolling.

4. Don’t fear your audience.

In most cases the audience is on your side. This is especially true if they are your classmates or your co-workers because chances are that they too are going to have to stand in the same shoes where you are now. They want to hear what you have to say and they want you to be successful with your speech. So think of it as speaking to a group of your friends rather than to a hostile group or a group of complete strangers.

5. Relax, take a deep breath, and be confident.

When you are introduced to speak, take a deep breath and let it out. When you reach the place where you will be giving your speech, thank the person who introduced you, then count to 5 before you start speaking. This is a mini-calming technique for you, but it also allows the audience to settle down.

You are now in control of the audience. They are not in con

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