It’s one of the top ten fears: speaking in public. Whether it’s a presentation for your company, a toast at a wedding, or an introduction at your next conference, the very thought triggers butterflies in your belly and rubber in your knees.
But take comfort in knowing that even actors who perform in front of others are often terrified of speaking in public when away from the cameras. In fact, studies estimate that around 75 percent of the population experiences the fear of public speaking.
So take a deep breath and relax, and follow these sure-fire tips to help conquer your glossophobia (that’s the technical term).
Leave the past behind
For many of us, the fear of public speaking began in school, when we had to get up in front of the class and recite, or read our homework out loud. Even if the kids didn’t laugh when we made a mistake, we were acutely conscious of our sweaty palms and blushing cheeks.
Forget about it! Replaying those scenes in your head just adds to your fear.
Shrink the audience
Many people fear public speaking because they think their listeners are judging them, waiting for them to fail. Usually the opposite is true: They’re eagerly awaiting whatever information you’re there to give them. So minimize the audience in your mind, and concentrate on your material.
Practice, practice, practice
If you know your topic cold, and you rehearse your speech over and over—in front of a mirror, with a few sympathetic friends—you won’t have to worry about losing your place or stumbling over a word here and there.
When you’re practicing, imagine your audience drinking in your every word, eager to hear more, nodding in approval, then applauding your terrific speech!
Flip the script
Whether you’re anxious or excited, your body will release adrenaline. So convince yourself that the racing heart and shaky hands are because you’re really enthusiastic about what you have to say.
Take a few slow, deep breaths. And smile!
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