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10 Tips to Control Your Fear of Public Speaking

Updated on January 14, 2015
The fear of public speaking tops most people's list of things they hate to do.
The fear of public speaking tops most people's list of things they hate to do. | Source

Public speaking is the number one fear

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. Speaking in public is number one on most people’s list of fears; they’d rather go to the dentist than get up before a crowd! If you count yourself among those who are afraid of speaking in public before a group, then you might want to consider joining Toastmasters International.

Since 1924, Toastmasters has helped millions of men and women become better communicators and leaders and it can help you, too (it helped me!!). There are more than 11,000 clubs worldwide so no matter where you live, there’s probably a club near you.

Whether or not you join a club, the following tips for speaking in public should help you better manage your fear, what we Toastmasters call making our butterflies fly in formation.

  • Be prepared. If you know you have to make a presentation at work on Friday, don’t wait until Thursday to start working on it. Ignoring what you have to do won’t make it go away; it will only make you even more anxious! The sooner you begin to gather your presentation materials together and write your speech or notes, the better.
  • Practice! Practice! Practice! I can't stress this enough. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with your speech. If you aren’t familiar with your material then your nervousness will increase and your public speaking skills will suffer.
  • Know the room where you will be speaking. Arrive early so you can get familiar with the speaking venue. Walk around the room. Take the walk up to the stage from where you will be seated. Try out the microphone. Practice with your visual aids if you can.
  • Know your audience. If possible, chat with audience members as they arrive. You’ll feel like you are talking to friends rather than a bunch of strangers and are less likely to feel nervous.
  • Know your equipment. If you need to use a computer for a Powerpoint presentation, make sure you are familiar with it, especially if it doesn’t belong to you. The same goes for a microphone.

Go from fearful to confident with these tips for conquering your fear of public speaking.
Go from fearful to confident with these tips for conquering your fear of public speaking. | Source
  • Relax. Practice relaxation techniques. Do some deep breathing – inhale through your nose to the count of 4 and exhale through your nose to the count of 8. Repeat several times. Or visualize yourself being successful in giving your speech and receiving warm applause.
  • Fake it. If you are nervous, don’t apologize and don’t call attention to it. You’d be surprised how many people won’t realize you are nervous. Smile as you talk, that will release some of the tension in your throat and relax your voice.
  • Make eye contact and gesture naturally. Ever have someone talk to you and never look you in the eye? Don’t be one of those speakers! Your audience is interested in what you have to say and looking them in the eye acknowledges and honors them as your listeners. Gesture in the appropriate places in your speech. Gesturing will also release some of your pent-up nervousness.
  • Focus on your speech. “Get into” what you are sharing with the audience. If you are passionate about your topic, the passion will come through and you will soon forget to be nervous. Remember, the audience is there to hear what you have to say about your subject.
  • It’s okay to have notes. If you are comfortable speaking without notes, great! If not, don’t be embarrassed to have a card with you or even a sheet of paper. Word of caution: If you have multiple pages, number them! If you drop your papers, you don’t want to be fumbling around figuring out the sequence. And if you do have multiple sheets, don't staple them. You'll be able to slide the sheets one behind the other unobtrusively.

Following these tips should help you get over the hurdle of making your first few presentations or speeches. However, the more you give, the more experience you will gain and the easier public speaking becomes.

For more tips on public speaking, check out Toastmasters International.

Toastmasters International Headquarters

A marker23182 Arroyo Vista, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 -
23182 Arroyo Vista, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688, USA
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    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I agree it helps to know your subject. It's unfortunate you had to speak on something you knew so little about. TM is an excellent organization to practice speaking skills, even if you don't think you'll ever make another speech, these skills are good to have. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • cblack profile image

      cblack 6 years ago from a beach somewhere

      I had to take public speaking class in college and I hated it. We had to give two presentaions during the class. The first one we got to choose our topic and I chose how to make a pizza. This one was easy for me because I had worked in a lot of pizza joints and I knew what I was talking about. We also got to use props so I kept hands busy demonstrating how to slap dough.

      The 2nd was a lot harder because the topic was chosen for us. I had some topic about politics, which I know NOTHING about. It was very hard for me because when I lost my train of thought I couldn't just wing it because I didn't even understand myself.

      Knowing the subject you are talking about is very important for public speaking.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I remember you saying my turtle hub was timely too. Glad to hear it.

      I'll be interested in how you do in your class (hey, you could write a hub about it, LOL). Seriously, in my opinion, some people are always going to be better speakers than others (i.e., my husband and kids) but that doesn't mean the rest of us can't manage our stage fright and make a good presentation. If you're allowed to choose your own topics you'll do great talking about Universal laws and such - your passion and knowledge of the subject comes through in your writing so it's just a matter of practicing talking about it.

      Don't rely on rehearsing in your head. Better to actually make your speech. Make your family your audience (as I did at first) or practice in front of a mirror.

      Good luck!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      I am definitely glad this is bookmarked now :) I had a scheduling conflict and had to drop a morning and class and sub with an evening class. The only thing left I could get into to keep my credit hour requirement was - gulp - a public speaking class which starts on Oct. 18 :) This was a timely hub for me apparently and just what I needed so thanks for that! I'll definitely be putting all of this into practice

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks GmaGoldie I appreciate your reading and your kind comments. I agree that the skill can be cultivated and I think it's definitely an important one for people to develop.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Danette Watt,

      Excellent Hub! Very well written. This is a skill that can be cultivated. Enjoyed your writing style, you kept me engaged with the bullet points and yet I left with allot of knowledge.

      Five star Hub! Very well done!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      @Matty - thanks for reading - yes, engaging the audience is so important. I feel I do that much better through my writing.

      @ Cashmere - kudos to you that you don't have much trouble with public speaking. Breaking a speech down into points and elaborating on them isn't a bad way to do a speech, in my opinion.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      I got kicked onto stage at a very early age by my mother, I think I was three, and no don't have too much trouble with public speaking. Although I do have this habit of breaking my speech down to five points and then elaborating on them.

    • Matty Says profile image

      Matt Stupar 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Great point about eye contact and gesturing. It can really make the difference between just giving a presentation and engaging the audience. If they are engaged, they will listen much more closely. Nice hub Danette!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Gail, I'm touched and honored that you would recommend me for "most helpful hubber" award. Thank you.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Am nominating you for the "Most Helpful Hubber" Hubbie Award as you not only write useful hubs such as this one, but have been very helpful in your comments on my own Hubs and in helping me get focused on my goals for Hub Pages.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks justmesuzanne. I've never been keen on learning new languages (although I greatly admire multi-linguists) and I imagine learning English must be tough because of all the exceptions to our grammar rules. I wish your ESL students much success in their endeavors.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

      Good tips! I will share this with my ESL students! Voted up and useful! :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for stopping by to read, Christin, and thanks for the compliment!

      Like you, I'm a much better writer than a speaker - writing gives me time to think about what I want to say plus I can "hide" behind the paper. I admire people who are comfortable being the focus of attention - part of my problem.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      This is indeed one of my biggest fears! I write much better than I speak I think. Still, I'd rather speak publicly than go to the dentist most days ;)

      Great advice. I really enjoy your hubs they are very well written.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for the votes, Gail. My 'giveaway' for nervousness is a dry mouth. Makes talking nearly impossible! I sip water throughout the class I teach but can't do that at the club's lectern.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great tips. I have a love/hate relationship with public speaking. I love it after I'm finished, seem to get a positive response from my audience, but hate the case of nerves I get before and during the presentation. I do everything you've listed here but even so, I have one big problem that makes it impossible to hide my nervousness- my face turns red! I consider a red face my public speaking disability and just forge forward during a presentation, passionate about my topic, as well prepared as I can be, and though I'm sure the audiences notice, it doesn't seem to dampen their enjoyment of the presentation. Thanks for posting these quality tips on Hub Pages. Am rating this up and useful.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for reading my hub, Husky1970. You are absolutely correct that public speaking comes naturally to some; unfortunately, I'm not one of them. This is something I continually have to work on. Thanks for the vote.

    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      Excellent information. For some, public speaking comes naturally. For most, it does not. Your tips are great. Voted useful.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      H Beleza,Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and I'm so glad to hear that you found these tips useful.

    • beleza profile image

      beleza 6 years ago

      Voted Up and Useful! You are such a talented writer! Thank you for these great tips!! :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 7 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for reading and the vote up. An even more awesome speaker can ad lib as he or she goes along. I'm not at that point yet. Someday....

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      What an awesome topic. I especially liked the tip about 'faking it' if you goof and not bringing attention to it. It's a smooth talker who can walk away and not indicate to his audience that he goofed. The inexperienced will often stumble, back track or freeze. Excellent hub. Rated up, awesome and useful.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 7 years ago from Illinois

      @theprintcenter - thanks for the comment. These tips have certainly helped me, especially about practicing.

      @jpcmc - you are absolutely correct about the time. Not only, as you say, to make sure you have time for your most important points, but also because of the need to be respectful of other people's time, especially if there are speakers following you. No one likes it when someone hogs all the time.

      In my Toastmasters club, we have a timing box with lights to alert speakers when they have just 1 or 2 minutes left available to them. I'm sure other clubs have similar means of alerting speakers when they are running out of time.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Great tips. May I also add the importance of time management when it comes to public speaking. Depending on the length of time given to you, you must allow enough time to focus on key points of your speech. Some speakers tend to spend to much time on certain points leaving other parts barely discussed. Poor time management will inevitably reflect on the quality of your speech.

      I usually ask for a large clock at the other end of the room or a small clock hidden on the podium. Looking at your wrist watch to check the time is a big turn off and can affect the mood and focus of the audience.

    • theprintcenter profile image

      theprintcenter 7 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Great hub! Really useful tips, I'm sure this will be helpful to a lot of people.

      Voted up!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 7 years ago from Illinois

      Glad you found them useful Odie_Driver and iamgeniuster. They really do work if you practice them. Good luck!

    • iamageniuster profile image

      iamageniuster 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. I will implement these tips.

    • odie_driver profile image

      odie_driver 7 years ago from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

      Great hub with wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing!


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