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How to overcome Fear of Public Speaking
Public speaking is a great opportunity to show your talent and ideas. Communication skills are very important in public speaking. When you’re giving public speak forget about yourself, is being confidence, speak from the heart.
From time immemorial, we have noticed that some nations are shaped and history is made through the speeches made by people. We do remember the speeches made by swami Vivekananda, Julius Caeser, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchhill. Almost everyone would like to be a great public speaker, but very few succeed.
Public speaking is no talent that one is born with. It is something acquired during the course of life, largely during the early formative years. The only thing is that certain qualities one is born with – temperamental traits and personality factors – do contribute to the making of a great speaker.
Many people get anxious when they are to deliver a speech. There are cases where people plainly freeze or feel paralyzed before an audience. Even the most seasoned speakers report experiencing anxiety and apprehension before a major speech. They use certain techniques to combat it and yet deliver a speech to remember.
Mind Matters in Public Speaking
Trait anxiety: Some people come with trait anxiety. They are anxious in social situations and are considered to have been shy during childhood. They avoid gatherings or places where they could be under the limelight. They fear that they might say something silly or freeze or do something embarrassing.
Well but anxious: The other category is people who get anxious when they have to deliver a speech; they are people who are perfectly well, Otherwise. They feel that they are not good enough to deliver a speech and when the occasion arises, their minds flood with negative thoughts or negative cognitions like they might fail or they might not be able to connect to the audience or they will be jeered at by the audience.
These negative cognitions affect the ‘amygdala’ or the emotion centre of the brain and generate strong emotions of fear and apprehension. The result is an adrenalin drive causing palpitation, sweating, intense fear and panic. The individual in question then adopts a flight or fight response.
Ways to overcome Fear
1. Know your audience
- Why are they before you?
- What do they want to hear?
- How can you connect to them?
- Be passionate about what you have to say
- Know if it is an informative or a persuasive speech
- Practice and time yourself
- Imagine and visualize the audience getting excited by your speech.
- Dress properly
- Reach the venue in advance
- Familiarize with the audience
- Perform relaxing exercises prior to the speech
- Start well, maintain eye contact
- Do not tell jokes, they can fall flat unless you are confident.
- You will know when the audience is getting bored. Use voice modulation, visual media and theatrics to get their attention back.
Psychologist & Psychiatrists can help you
In case of debilitating anxiety wherein you freeze, take expert or medical help. Techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy may be employed by psychologists to help you combat negative thoughts. Biofeedback may be used to get a feedback about the internal states of body and mind.
Biofeedback is now considered the most effective way of combating anxiety associated with public speaking.
If the above techniques do not work, a consultation with a psychiatrist might make a major difference in your life. Medications may be prescribed to combat the anxiety for short term and long term.
It is possible to inculcate all these pre speech preparations from a very young age. Schools can organize regular events to make it a habit for children to talk in public and make presentations, so that they are not at a loss when they are older. When identified early, remedial work to help the child can be started early.
There are lots of training programmes to help people in improving their public speaking skills. Attend one of them to get some experience and also to know where you stand in comparison to others.
Relaxation Exercises Before a Speech
- Roll your neck sideways and back in both directions – five times each.
- Sit calmly for 30 seconds
- Do abdominal breathing and anulom-vilom pranayama
- Have a smile on your face.
- Visualize the audience enjoying your speech and their admiration for you.
When you analyze great public speakers, two factors surface consistently
- They know their audience very well.
- They are passionate about what they have to say.
The rest is just a process. The good news is that any hitches in this process can be conquered easily and effectively, giving everyone a chance to aim at being a good public speaker.