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How to overcome the fear of public speaking - Ten tips to face the fear of Public speaking

Updated on June 16, 2011

Fear of public speaking

Among all the fears that people face, research shows that the Fear of public speaking or glossophobia tops the list, followed by the fear of death. incredible as it seems, it is true. Like any other fear, it is incapacitating in nature and many of us are seeking ways to overcome the fear of public speaking.

A shy or timid nature, the lack of adequate social skills, insecurity, being a perfectionist, fear of embarrassment, fear of an intimidating audience, or just plain old negative thinking are some of the reasons people have fear of public speaking. What ever may be the cause,  to overcome the fear of public speaking an individual just has to decide and act on it and it would soon be a thing of the past. I know most people do not believe what I say. I just want to share with you my own tryst with this fear and how I handled it.

Public Speaking
Public Speaking

How to overcome the fear of public speaking when you have a long history?

My fear of public speaking has a long history, I just ran away from stage at the age of four and it haunted me for a good thirty years. Every time I thought of the mike, the podium, the audience and their glaring stares I would shudder internally. I would write speeches for my friends and they would go ahead and win trophies with the speeches that I wrote. All their motivation could not get me up on that stage, I could never overcome the fear of public speaking. I thought I was doomed to take it with me to the grave. Surprisingly, however, I did overcome my fear, today I can stand in front of people and speak without them knowing that once I was so afraid of what I am doing very comfortably now.

Ten tips to overcome the fear of public speaking

Get prepared - Over the years I had actually prepared for my success, (without my knowledge) by getting involved in many activities that require you to talk or teach to a small audience. I taught a bunch of kids in the local church for a year and was pretty comfortable with higher age groups after a period of time. Later I was invited to teach young men on subjects that I am passionate about, this meant that, I also had exposure from time to time to address their parents and older adults involved with this work. I had another great opportunity of teaching a bunch of university students for a month (leave vacancy), I replaced my lecturer in college who had fallen ill. I had not thought of this a preparation, but this is what gives me the confidence today. Start small, speak to small groups, and widen the horizons as you grow.

Your speeches should be your passion - I noticed that even though I was afraid of speaking to bigger or well educated audiences, during the course of the speech I was so involved with the topic that I forgot myself. Let your passion drive you- not your fear.

Change your thinking - You need not be the most knowledgeable or perfect speaker to start public speaking. The most knowledgeable are not the most engaging public speakers. I am sure you remember from your school or your college days that the most intelligent was not always the best teacher, but it was the ones who made simple things most interesting. They were the ones you cared to listen to.The ones who had a sense of humor and could laugh at themselves were the best speakers. Humor and humility endear the speaker to the audience, they are able to identify with the speaker and his/her circumstances.

Tips to overcome the fear of public speaking now

Face your Fears - The only way to overcome fear is to face fear. I was at a college where a teacher of mine was giving a speech, and halfway through his speech, he announced that, I would continue the talk as some emergency had come up and left the place. I had no time to think or prepare or refuse and I was thrown into the situation. I was pale, shaking badly and words refused to come out from my mouth. I had followed the speech of the main speaker with much interest, made points, so I just looked at my notes and I stared off. Forty five minutes later, I sat down to a good applause. To this day I cannot remember what I spoke, but I had overcome the fear of public speaking.

Take up more assignments – I did. When ever an opportunity arose, I took up more speaking assignments. I was shaking with fear alright, but not paralyzed by it any more. The first plunge had done the job, but taking up more helped me overcome the fear of public speaking.

Trick your brain into believing The other things that you could do to over come the fear is to pretend, yes pretend. Pretend that the mike (if you fear it) actually covers your face. You are laughing I can see, but it worked for me! The podium shields you from the daggers and the glares of those merciless creatures waiting to tear you apart. It does, they cannot see you shivering and shaking. If you can hold your voice, they will even believe that you are fearless. I told myself they have much less to see, I could see every face in the crowd. If you don’t believe me, try looking into the eyes of one person in the crowd and they will quickly look away or look down. You have nothing to fear, they are more afraid than you are. Once I perfected this art of pretending, I was well on my way.

My take away from this is, ignore those things that threaten you or make a joke of them, they will not worry you any further. Pretend that you are looking at crowds and practice and this won’t be a strange thing anymore.

Believe in your self, you do not allow self-doubts to nag you. Use positive affirmation or power affirmation to over come your fear of public speaking

Take help

Taking classes for public speaking and video recording of the speeches will help you view objectively what you are doing and help you correct your gestures and modulate your voice well. This may help you get your confidence up to a certain extent.

Standing in front of the mirror and practice your speech, get a willing audience of your family members or friends and practice with them.

Get feedback, never argue about them, be graceful and saying that you will look it into it will help. Implement all that you consider good suggestion.

The negative side of not facing the fear of public speaking

If you choose not to overcome your problem, but flee from it, you may have to undergo a whole lot of things.

In other words, if do not overcome your problem, your fear will over take your mind and your emotions will dictate the route you should take.

Stress is one of the things you have to undergo every time you have to make a presentation or speech at work, if you choose not overcome your fear.

You may also have to pass up many opportunities that could have promoted you up in life.

Your lack of self confidence in one area may get generalized into other areas of your life and deter you from taking up teaching or training jobs, or may even may hinder you from doing a presentation for a project at work.

Self doubts increase, thereby bringing down your self confidence or selfesteem. Your growth and personal development as an individual will be stunted to a large extent.

So decide - today is the time to overcome the fear of public speaking!


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    • overcoming456 profile image

      vanSpijck B.V. 5 years ago from CL Zwijndrechtl

      I am feeling glad to search this hub. Great writing. I will share it with my friends..

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      menwa , I hope your speech went off well. You would have crossed another major milestone in your life. Best wishes to you.

    • profile image

      menwa 6 years ago

      actuallly i have to a speech and i was so scared tht i can barely breath ,,,but after reading this i cnt wait for the speech

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      franticsharpie, thank you for stopping by to leave a comment. Have a lovely day.

    • franticsharpie profile image

      franticsharpie 6 years ago

      Very helpful hub!

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      Gracenduta, Sometimes you just have to jump in and face the fear. Best wishes to you. Have a great day!

    • Gracenduta profile image

      Gracenduta 6 years ago from Kenya

      Great hub, I try to overcome the the fear of public speaking everyday and hope to improve.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      Wow!! Hats off to you have taken that very crucial first step..don't worry if you have butterflies in your stomach next time..but then remember that you have conquered them already!! ..and remember that the Lord said "Do not be afraid" God Bless you!

    • Eunice Stuhlhofer profile image

      Eunice Stuhlhofer 6 years ago

      Hi Sofs,thanks for a great hub on public speaking. I had this paralyzing fear when I was asked to speak at a christian women's meeting last month. Although I had months to prepare, I felt so scared every time the thought came up. Now it's past me and I will improve on the weak areas gradually. voted useful

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      Wba108.. if I can do it, you can too.. go on..face your is hard only the first few times, now I need people to let me know when to stop.. Go out there and do it.. best wishes to you :)

    • profile image 6 years ago from upstate, NY

      Sofs--This is an awesome and well written hub! I feel I must master my fear of speaking also. I can see the need to step up to the plate and take every opportunity as they arise, in regards to speaking in public. Also I'm going to attempt to train my myself as you suggested. Thanx for sharing!

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Fear that is faced becomes less intimidating. Yes I am with you on that I too still shiver and shake before I start but once a couple of sentences have been uttered I am back to being my confident self. Yeah, if we can make the audience our friend the atmosphere becomes friendly. But the limitation is only in the mind. Glad that you have overcome the fear of public speaking PegCole.

      Thank you for the visit and comment. God bless!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You're absolutely right about this sofs. The more you face your fear the less intimidating public speaking becomes. Yet, I admit, each time I get the quakes just before I begin. But once you see that the audience is really listening or rooting for you, it becomes less intimidating and ultimately rewarding.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Htodd,You are welcome. I am glad that it was useful!!

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for sharing details

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Confamd J Thank you for the visit and taking the time to comment. Yes, to get over a fear you have to face it head on. It is true that it is not going to be easy but once you have faced your fear, it becomes easier with repetitions and you become more self confident. Yes you are absolutely right!!

    • profile image

      Confamd j 7 years ago

      To myself and to everybody reading i say, it's neva gon b an easy road if we keep thinking about it. But it's gon be so easy only when we take a bold step toward achieving a fearless personality. (I luv every comment on this page) THANX

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Mackwpayne, I am not sure that those who are filled with fear of public speaking will agree that it is the easiest to remedy, I wouldn't have when I was on the other side of the fence. But think of it, yes it is so easy to overcome, you just need to face your fears head on. It is just our perception that needs to be changed. Thanks for the comment, I do appreciate it!

    • mackwpayne profile image

      mackwpayne 7 years ago from Lake Placid, Florida

      Great post about the number one fear. It is amazing that the biggest fear one has is the easiest to remedy. All it takes is a little nuts and bolts instructions and a little practice.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Prasetio, it has been my experience that as long as you are afraid of fear, you have to undergo stress and strain. Facing the fear is the only way of overcoming the fear, I learnt it the hard way! Thank you for taking the time to visit this hub and commenting on it. God bless!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Good information from you. I agree with you. We have to decided to overcome the fear of public speaking and increase self confident to speaking in front of many people. Very inspiring hub. Thanks for share with us. ~prasetio

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Embee, Yes the Toastmasters org., is indeed one of the finest and most positive environments to practice and grow. You get to the target as always, the limitations we place on ourselves is our biggest enemy. If I could do it, anyone can, that is what I want to tell my readers here.

      Thank you Embee for your kind words.

    • embee77 profile image

      embee77 7 years ago

      This is outstanding advice. Have you ever heard of the Toastmasters organization? It's a safe group to practice in, with others in the same boat as you. It's true, the more you do it, the better you get. I went through the whole "self unsteem" thing and can now (within the past year or so, and at the ripe old age of 57) stand in front of a group to speak. For me, getting over the Perfection expectation was big. The limitations we place on our lives are endless if we don't face our fears. Way to go, girl. Thanks.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Timorous, it is a pleasure to hear from you, yes you are right, shallow breathing is part of the fear paraphernalia,

      taking deep breaths do help. Thankyou for bringing it up, I had forgotten to include this.

      Thank you for your very encouraging words.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 7 years ago from Me to You

      Hi sofs; Another fine hub, and some really good points. One thing that comes with fear is shallow breathing. It helps if you do deep abdominal breathing exercises. This helps you relax of course, and if done properly enables you to project your voice better.


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