What is the most common fear across the globe? Well, surprisingly enough, Public speaking is the one of the most common fears across the entire galaxy.. Okay, maybe just our planet, I was exaggerating lightly there..
The scientific term for the fear of public speaking is Glossophobia. Now, the second greatest fear in the world is, well, death! So Glossophobia is definitely something that is very, very common amongst people of any age group or nationality.
In order to overcome your fear of public speaking, you must first understand what "fear" is. Fear, is the anticipation of pain. Now, considering the anticipation of pain, is your fear really real, or is it just something you have imagined?
Realizing the source;
Why are you nervous? What are you to be afraid of, standing up infront of a room full of your peers? Why is it so difficult for some people, and easy for others? The root cause of all of your fear, is not knowing. Not knowing what might or will happen, or even when. Especially when you are in front of a large group giving a speech or a presentation, even a small group. Your fear is not that you aren't confident or well versed into your topic of choice. It is simply, that you do not know what will happen when you step in front of the group.
Don't let your fear get inside your head, just don't let it get to you. Face your fears and eliminate them. If you feel like your knees are made out of a new type of space-age jelly substance that shakes, rattles and rolls, this is completely normal. Just remind yourself that the word FEAR stands for False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. More than likely, whatever it is you have in your head that you are frightened of, quite honestly won't happen, period. If there really is something to worry about, do something about it, don't just sit there and do nothing. Do whatever it takes to stop yourself from worrying.
Keep calm, and carry on.
Keep calm and carry on. A widely used phrase lately, and growing truer and truer by the day. Just keep calm and remember to take deep breaths. Practicing a breathing exercise is a great way to train your body into breathing. One of the most effective ways to do this is to breathe infront of a mirror before you go out onto the stage and hold your breath and pass out due to stage fright. Before you go on stage, relax your body and your mind by simply breathing. In a hallway, or a prep room or even behind a curtain you can use this technique to calm yourself. Stand still, wait until you literally feel the ground under your two feet, then just close your eyes and imagine yourself floating in mid air. Listening to your breathing, breathe slower, and slower, and tell yourself in your head that there is no rush at all. Start counting until you hit anywhere between 4-6 seconds of breathing in or out, and vise versa. After this exercise, you will go out onto the stage, step into the spotlight, and be the speech-giving machine you really are.
Relaxing, is simply letting go. It is an art form, and over time you will master it. There are a couple different ways you can help to attain a black belt in relaxation. You can imagine yourself as made of rubber, or floating on a cloud, you can practice the technique stated in the above paragraph. You can make yourself laugh, you can sit down in complete silence and drink a tall glass of water and just lay down under a fan. Anything that you need to do, that relaxes you, do it before a speech. I personally like to fall on the ground like my bones just turned to jelly, and just lay wherever I land (obviously I do this in my house and on a floor with comfortable carpet, it would be hilariously odd if a co-worker saw you do this right before a big meeting or presentation with your bosses, medical might even be called!)
Interactive & engaging
Isn't it weird when you are watching a speech, or a presentation of some sort, and your speaker is just standing there, barely moving, barely changing the tone of his voice? The person giving that speech, is more than likely nervous.
A way to counteract that stick figure nervousness appearance, is by becoming engaged with your audience, Don't just stand there and hope that if you don't move they can't see you, because they can.
Think about all of the good presentations that you have seen or even been a part of. The good ones are the ones who are engaged with the audience and the people who are listening, and this makes it easier. Why does it make it easier? It puts the spotlight completely off of you, and allows it to be cast on others either in the audience or onto a spread sheet or a slide. Use the spreadsheet or the slide as much as you feel comfortable doing so, and allow yourself to simply slip into the shadows while the attention of your audience is elsewhere.Engaging with your audience can be asking questions, or making jokes, to diverting their eyes to a video on a big bright screen in a darkly lit room.
The first thing you need to understand about nervousness or nerves in general, is that most people can't see that you are nervous. Unless these people are trained in nuerolinguistics or some kind of body language specialty class, they will have no idea. As you step food out onto the stage, and you are walking out into the spotlight screaming in your head and trying to remain calm, simply remember that no one knows you are nervous other than yourself.
Your stomach can be in knots and you might feel like you are about to be sick and lose your lunch, but seriously, no one can tell. Thinking that you appear nervous, and trying to fake remaining cool and keeping your head while doing a speech, is one of the worst things you can think of. This makes you even MORE nervous, and plays on your fears because you are trying to overcompensate, and you are focusing too much on your actions rather than your speech, which is the main reason you are in the spot light to begin with. There are only a couple different clues that can show a person is nervous and they really are small, so small that an ordinary person really wouldn't put more than a second into thinking about them or even noticing them. So seriously, don't worry about it, people won't see that extreme nervousness inside of you, as long as you keep it in your head that they can't tell you are nervous.
A way to help subside a part of your brain which causes you to be nervous is by gently massaging your forehead, you can press more firm or softer depending on how you feel. Also, right above the eyes, in the corner where they meet your nose, ,massage this area gently, as it will alleviate some of the pressure and stress built up in your head, and make you feel much more calm before a big speech.
One of the greatest ways to become a better public speaker is to hear yourself speak. The best way to do this is to go out and buy some recording software or recording program and install it on your computer, then record a speech or presentation that you need to do. After you have recorded yourself, simply review it! Reviewing your speech allows you to understand and pinpoint what you can improve on, and what you could work on to make it that much better. Practicing in the mirror also works, however, you won't be able to go back at a later time to coach yourself and find out what you need to change. Using a webcam is a great alternative as well, and if you have a large enough room and can back away from your computer enough, it will allow you to see what you do with your hands, feet and over all body language while giving a speech or presentation.
Practice makes perfect. So in order to become perfect, you should prepare, prepare, prepare. A vital factor in how well your speech is going to go, is to make sure you know what you are covering in your speech or presentation. Go over all the material you are going to cover multiple times. Force yourself to make a detailed outline, no matter how tedious it might sound, it can help you remember everything. An outline will help substantially if you ever get tongue tied or off topic during your speech, you will be able to essentially wing it and get back on track by fully knowing your topic, and your entire speech.
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