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Tips to get over the fear of public speaking

Updated on February 28, 2013

"Do the thing that you cannot do ..."

Many people have fears when it comes to speaking or performing in public. Being in front of a group can bring on feelings of vulnerability. This vulnerability, combined with feelings of responsibility towards the audience and worrying about meeting their expectations, can make for an overwhelming and downright frightening experience.

There are a few things you can do. First, don’t think about yourself and what the audience might think. Instead, just try to focus on the audience. Find someone in the audience to look at. Keep looking at that person for several seconds. Then, find someone else to look at and do the same thing and so on. That way you won’t be looking at the whole audience as a big frightening group of people; instead, you’ll see the audience as individual people.

Next, nervous feelings always feel worse than they look. Don’t call attention to the fact that you’re nervous or afraid and probably nobody else will know about it. If you act confident you will start to feel confident. If you make a mistake, just keep going. Chances are no one will notice the mistake and it they do, it’s no big deal; you are human and humans make mistakes.

Also, think about Eleanor Roosevelt. Reportedly, she was shy and terrified of speaking in public; but because she was married to the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she had to speak in public quite often. She conquered her fear and became one of the best speakers ever. When she spoke about conquering her shyness and fears, she said ‘you must do the thing you cannot do.’

You can conquer your fear. You can do the thing you think you cannot do!


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    • MaeMG profile image

      MaeMG 4 years ago

      I actually do have major fears of speaking in public. I've only had to do a few presentations in college outside my major and I actually took a public speaking course. You offer some great tips here. Lol I love that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt! I also didn't know she had public speaking fears either. Good to know! :)

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      I haven't done any public speaking in the last twenty-three years. Prior to that though, I had done a great deal. I'd probably have to start over at this point and learn the whole skill all over again. But there doesn't appear to be a need of that any time soon. You've given some good tips though, and I will take them to heart, just in case.

    • DIYmommy profile image

      Julie 4 years ago

      I did not know that about Eleanor Roosevelt. My husband struggled with public speaking for awhile, but, as a U.S. Army officer, he's been placed into many situations where he simply had no other option but to rise above his fears, anxiety, and vulnerability. All the preparation in the world can happen, but I think it eventually just gets to the point where you have to do it. Thanks for the great hub!