According to Gallup, 40% of people are afraid of public speaking. Even those who are able to overcome butterflies and speak in front of a crowd may feel a rash of nerves before getting on stage. If thinking about speaking to a crowd of people makes you want to run away, here are 3 easy steps to help you overcome your fear of speaking in public.
- Be Prepared
Don’t try to memorize your speech. If you are already nervous, forgetting what you’ve memorized can make it worse and give you that deer in the headlights appearance of someone who has forgotten his speech.
Instead, prepare for the speech by using a simple three point format where you tell the audience what you’re going to talk about and the three points you’ll cover under that main topic. For example:
“Today, I am going to talk about overcoming your fear of public speaking. I’ll discuss being prepared, simple relaxation techniques and learning to laugh at yourself.”
Also, take basic notes that will keep you on topic, but do not write out what you’re going to say word for word. Instead, use the notecards as a basic outline to keep you on track.
- Use Simple Relaxation Techniques
Ten minutes or so before it’s time to speak, try to do some simple visualization and relaxation techniques. Visualize yourself giving the speech and the audience cheering for you at the end.
Also, do some deep breathing. Close your eyes and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting to three slowly on the inhale and again on the exhale.
- Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Everyone makes mistakes when giving a speech. It is easy to get tongue-twisted or even forget what you’re saying and lose your place. Learn to laugh at yourself when this happens and the audience will forgive you.
If you stumble over your words, just laugh and say something like, “That one was a tongue twister.” Then, keep going with your speech. You have something important to say, so don’t let a little awkwardness get in the way.
If these 3 easy steps to help you overcome your fear of speaking in public don’t do the trick, take a minute and figure out what you’re afraid of. What is the worst thing that could happen? If you are scared people will laugh at you, then imagine figure out how you’ll handle it if they do. Sometimes, simply having a plan to deal with the worst case scenario can ease your fear and allow you to get up and talk in front of a crowd.
Practice makes perfect, so the more you can bring yourself to speak in public, the easier it will become.