Everyone has experienced the emotion of fear sometime or the other. While some people fear things that are tangible in nature or those that can be seen like a wild animal, fear of height, fear of fire, fear of closed spaces etc, yet many others get terrified by intangible fears, which are more treacherous in nature as they cannot be seen and only felt. One such phobia is the fear of public speaking. Does the name itself cause a chill to run through your spine? Having lumps formed inside the throat, feeling like a dunce or freezing on the spot are common responses that people have when confronted with such a situation. But note that you aren't the only one facing the problem. In fact, a recent survey showed that the fear of public speaking was the top fear amongst all fears, even before the fear of dying which was on number seven. Considering the figures one might say that more people prefer to die than speak in public. However, did you know that public speaking isn't traumatic, and instead considered helpful to overcome certain psychological problems?
Remember, even the best of speakers have jitters and butterflies in their stomach just before giving a speech, but then that does not mean they run away from the situation. Public speaking may cause 'fight' and 'flight' response in you, but it is your duty to overcome the 'flight' response and 'fight' your way for an impressive beginning. Sweaty palms, jumbled thoughts, accelerated heartbeats are the common symptoms of public speaking anxiety. While having a little bit of anxiety helps maintain focus, don’t let it overpower you. There are a number of behavioral exercises that you can try to overcome the fear of public speaking. But, the best way to overcome this hitch is to confront it, but with proper planning and orientation. Read on to know how you can conquer the overwhelming fear of stress and work your way up the ladder.
Public Speaking Anxiety
Choose the topic wisely and if possible, try to choose the subject which interests you and the topic which excites you. The presentation need not be flourished and lofty; a simple presentation but with an interesting approach is all you need to make the listeners pay attention to what you are addressing. Do a thorough research on the topic and jot down a few points that can be used during the speech, but never jot down the whole speech. Remember, rote learning will never make you a good speaker. Instead try to be a little spontaneous if possible. Let the enthusiasm flow as you speak and let the audience too be able to feel it.
Since you aren't an expert in public speaking, little knick-knacks can go a long way in making the whole experience more joyous and enjoyable. Getting familiar with the venue is of utmost importance. If possible try to organize the speech in familiar surroundings like a known lecture hall, theatre or an auditorium. Even if you know the environment well, practice the speech at the site at least once with all the audio visual components so that you have the complete feel of the place. This whole exercise will make you comfortable and hence, you will not feel as an alien while delivering the speech.
Be prepared for a question and counter question session. Although it is unlikely to have someone questioning you at an informal occasion, if you are addressing a formal crowd you might have to face criticism or a difficult question. The best way to answer such question is to start the question with complimenting the person who has put that question, "Well that's a nice question" or "I really appreciate your comment." Such statements put the heckler as well as a speaker in a comfortable position. If possible, try to anticipate the questions that the speech might arise among the audience and prepare to tackle them.
Practice the speech a number of times before the actual recital. It will increase your comfort level and you will also be able to remember facts easily. Even the best orators practice the speech quite a number of times before actually delivering it. You must time yourself. In case your speech exceeds the given time limit, alter it accordingly beforehand. The more you practice, the more it will boost your confidence. In case, you are not able to get a live listener try the mirror exercise. For the same, just stand in front of a mirror and speak to your reflection. This will help you in having a look at your posture and the body language. Just don’t be judgmental while practicing the mirror exercises.
If possible, try to get a perspective on the draft of the speech, as it helps building up the confidence and also helps you to understand if there are any flaws in the whole speech. Many a times, there might be certain aspects or things that we forget while drafting a speech. Getting a second opinion would help get a clearer view and also highlight the loopholes if any. Also, it would help you know the listeners point of view.
Imagining yourself giving a successful speech is a great confidence building exercise. Try to feel the positive vibrations from the audience reaching you; try to feel the applause and the appreciation in the eyes of the audience! All these visuals will help you overcome the jitters and instill in you a never-felt-before confidence!
Public speaking is inevitable for those who want to succeed in almost all the walks of life, be it career, social circle or even for that matter an informal gathering. Though during the first few times it may be really hard, with practice, this would become more of a habit and a part of routine.