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The Phobia of Public Speaking: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking- Part Two
Talking about overcoming the phobia of public speaking, I've already discussed the first 6 hot…Oh! I mean sizzling hot tips in the first part of this article. I suggest that you read it up here if you haven’t done so already.
Believing that you enjoyed the first part, I enjoin you to pay rapt attention as I discuss the next 5 sizzling hot tips that will help you overcome your public speaking phobia.
Do I have your attention now? OK! Let’s begin…
Hot Tip 7: Embrace Positive Thinking—Believe in Yourself!
A lot have been said and written about the power of positive thinking. There are even scientific explanations backing this up.
As far as overcoming the phobia of public speaking is concerned, positive thinking can be a powerful weapon in your hands.
On my hub about the history of public speaking, I told the story of Demosthenes who had great speech impediments and was referred to as a weakling when he was a boy. But he later became one of the most respected and celebrated public speakers in the history of Greece!
Another example I always recall is one of my lecturers during my days in the college. He was a chronic stammerer. Yet he was a lecturer! He would lecture in front of hundreds of students and this he did confidently in spite of his limitations.
Do you wonder where Demosthenes and my lecturer got their confidence from?
Simply put, they were determined and believed in themselves… they embraced positive thinking! They both believed they could become confident speakers and that’s exactly what they became. So root out all those negative ‘what if’ worries off your head and replace them with positive ones.
Why can’t “what if I blank out?” become “what if I wow my audience?” why not replace “what if my audience boos me?” with “what if I get a resounding applause and a standing ovation?” I can go on and on and on but that won’t be necessary because I believe you've gotten my point already.
And you know what? Most of these negative things never happen. So what’s the point drowning yourself in the ocean of public speaking phobia over things that might not happen?
Hot Tip 8: Maintain a Proper Perspective
So many people unknowingly invite the phobia of public speaking upon themselves by having a wrong perspective of what public speaking is all about, especially their audience. They believe that their audience is solely there to criticize them and look out for their blunders.
The truth is that most times your audience wants you to succeed. They will simply overlook your blunders.
Another thing is that when we see some in the audience leaving early, dozing off or getting distracted, we believe we've lost it. We believe they are not ‘feeling’ us and we are too boring for them. Well, that may be true in some cases but not most of the time.
Perhaps someone just remembered he had an appointment to catch up with and had to leave early. Another might have had a bad night and didn't get enough sleep so he couldn't help dozing off. Yet another may be getting distracted because he failed to put his phone in a condition that would minimize distractions not necessarily because you are boring.
More so, I want you to know that you cannot make everybody accept you. Not even Martin Luther King Jr. or Dale Carnegie could do that. You are there to pass something of value to them and if you can add value to most of them (note I didn't say ‘all of them’) then you are already successful!
So combat your phobia of public speaking by believing that your listeners are your friends and maintaining a proper perspective of public speaking.
Hot Tip 9: Familiarize Yourself with Your Venue
You may be wondering what this has got to do with overcoming your phobia of public speaking. But it has got a lot to do with it. If there is time for it and you can access your venue before hand, I suggest you go there and familiarize yourself with it. If not ask as many questions as possible about the place.
Where are you expected to enter and exit the podium? It may interest you to know that some podiums have different entry and exit points. Is the hall big? Will it require that you raise your voice for all to hear you clearly? Or is it small and requires you to lower your voice so that it doesn't look like you are shouting at your audience? How are the seats arranged? Will the arrangement require you to move from point to point to really maintain eye contact with your audience?
Arming yourself with information such as these will make you know ahead of time what adjustments you may have to make before your delivery. Furthermore, it will make you feel in control. And knowing that you are in control will greatly reduce your public speaking phobia.
Hot Tip 10: Relax and Stay Calm
Let’s face it. There may be times when things just go awry despite solid preparation and having done all you are supposed to do. If one is not careful, frustration may set in and ultimately, anxiety!
In situations like this, what do you do? Give in to the frustration?
Nah! Nah! Nah! That won’t be the right thing to do… Then what?
…Just relax and stay calm!
That won’t be the time to rush at things. Remaining calm will give your brain the opportunity to quickly think about what to do. You will be amazed at how much staying calm can reduce your anxiety.
I have personally experienced the power of remaining calm in turbulent situations many times over. I first discovered this power years back in my college days…
It was time for our exams. We had a lecturer who deceived us by asking us to read certain topics for the exam but ended up setting questions from completely different topics! Sounds strange? But that’s what happened.
Every one of us was caught unawares. Beads of sweats started appearing on everybody’s forehead and groans and murmurs of frustration could be clearly heard all over the hall. Some even went as far as raining curses on the lecturer.
I didn't seem to know the answers to the questions myself. For the first 1 hour 30 minutes (mind you, the paper was a two-hour paper), I couldn't write anything. All I was doing was flipping my pen from one side to the other. But unlike many of my mates in the hall who gave in to the frustration, I just relaxed and stayed calm! Seriously, up to this day I can’t still figure out where the calmness came from.
Then about 30 minutes before the end of the paper, it clicked! I picked up my pen and started writing. Behold! I didn't stop for a second until the invigilator shouted “Time up…Stop!”
The good news? Relax! I will tell you…
When the results came out, I had an ‘A’ (distinction) in that particular course—which over 80% failed woefully—and I finished that semester with a First Class grade! What did the magic?
My calmness had provided my brain and sub-conscious mind with the right atmosphere to tirelessly work at providing a solution to my dilemma. They simply brought back the things I had already known, read and heard about the topics from which the questions were taken. All I did was to pour them down in my own words.
I can bet that wouldn't have happened if I had not remained calm. Ever since, I have always applied this ‘staying calm’ principle to everything else I do. And it has helped me severally in my public speaking endeavours.
So, when next you find yourself in a ‘turbulent’ situation in the course of your presentation, just…
Relax and stay calm!
Hot Tip 11: Pray, Pray and Pray
Excuse me; I do not intend to sound religious here. But I do know that most people believe in a Higher Being who is supernatural, more powerful and wiser than humans.
For me, as a Christian, that Higher Being is Jehovah God. I also believe in the power of prayer. Hence, whenever I have to give a talk, I pray to my God, Jehovah for wisdom and guidance to prepare a good talk that will get the job done—add value to my listeners. I also pray for the confidence and poise to deliver the talk masterfully.
Knowing that there is a Higher Being who is with me all the way gives me the needed confidence. I recommend you do the same because it will help you too overcome your phobia of public speaking.
With these hot tips, I’d wrap up my discussion of how to overcome the phobia of public speaking. It is my strong believe that if you diligently put to heart these hot tips plus the ones I discussed in the first part of this article, public speaking won’t be an activity that instills fear into you but one that you will enjoy, treasure and look forward to.