How to Overcome your Fear of Public Speaking

            Speaking in front of an audience is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are always those people who seem to be born to speak in front of crowds, but for others, that is not the case. Although I wish there were some magic solution that would solve the fear of public speaking for everyone, it’s just something that takes time and practice.

            Practice makes perfect. I am sure you have heard that quote before, but it really holds a lot of power. Preparedness when public speaking is crucial. You never know what may happen, if you have to change your topic on the fly, or the slideshow you prepared will not open on the computer. Being prepared allows you to be put in the best possible position to complete your speech well. Practicing with note cards in the mirror or in front of your friends are two simple options. The more you familiarize yourself with the material the easier it will be to talk about even if you have a few hiccups along the way.

            When it comes to topics if you are able to pick one, be sure to find one that you are passionate about. For example, if you love playing the flute, do a speech about your favorite song that your teacher taught you how to play. Just like writing, when looking for ideas to present, choose one you are enthusiastic about; it will be much easier to speak about it in front of an audience.

            Speaking of an audience, if I know who is in the audience, whether that be classmates or the student body, I feel more comfortable than if I was in front of a group of strangers. I always try to find a person or two in the room that I know. I might even tell my friends beforehand, “Hey, I might look at you during my speech if I find myself starting to feel nervous.” This gives me that sense of comfort that I may be needing throughout my speech and perhaps it can help you too. If you don’t know anyone in the audience, that’s okay too! Find a few spots around the room to look at, and focus on these instead of the crowd.

            When giving in-class presentations, I volunteer to go near the beginning, that way I don’t have to sit through class feeling anxious. I recommend doing this at least once. Usually, everyone is so worried about giving their own speech they are not giving the speaker their full attention. This may be a disappointment to some, but if you are a nervous speaker, it can be helpful to remind yourself of this. It will make you feel better.

            Finally, always remember to breathe. If you need to stop and take a pause here and there do it. There is nothing wrong with having pauses throughout a speech. This gives the opportunity for a reset and a second to catch your breath. In addition, it allows the listeners to absorb what you are saying.

            That feeling of relief when you finish a speech is wonderful. Try to remind yourself of that if you find yourself struggling. Think of a speech as a learning experience. It might be good. It may be terrible. That is okay. What matters is that at the end of the day you can say you did your best and can find yourself working towards overcoming your fear of public speaking.