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24 Quick Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

You’ve just been asked to give a public presentation. Maybe
it’s for work. Maybe it’s for school. But no matter where the assignment came
from, one thing is certain: you’ve got to overcome your fear of public speaking
and you’ve got to overcome it fast.

First,
if you suffer from public speaking anxiety, know that you’re not the only one.
Statistics show that most adults have a fear of speaking in public. So, if your
upcoming presentation has got a you a bit nervous, that’s perfectly normal. 

Also,
you should know that many famous people also have suffered from a fear of public
speaking. Julia Roberts, for example, is an Academy Award winning actress who’s
given numerous successful performances. However, Roberts
reportedly once had a public speaking anxiety
due
to a stuttering problem as a child, but Roberts overcame that public speaking
fear. If Julia Roberts could overcome
the fear of public speaking, so can you, but it may take a bit of work on your
part. Your public speaking anxiety doesn’t have to limit your opportunities. 

Fear of public speaking
If your upcoming presentation has got a you a bit nervous, that’s perfectly normal.  (Source: Envato Elements)

In this article, I’ve listed 24 different tips to help you
conquer your fear of public speaking. Everybody’s different, though. Not every
tip is necessarily going to work for every person. The best way to use the list
is to pick out the tips that you think most likely to work for you and try those
first. (Be honest, don’t just pick the ones you think will be the easiest to do.)
Then, you can move on to try other public speaking anxiety tips.

Also, if you want to take these tips further, be sure to download our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It’ll help you master the complete presentation process.

Presentations eBook

How
to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking

Are
you ready to tackle your fear of public speaking? Choose one or several of
these public speaking anxiety tips:

1. Try Shorter Speeches First

As
with anything else, overcoming your fear of public speaking is a process. As
part of the process, it’s a good idea to begin small. If you were learning math
for the first time, you wouldn’t jump immediately to the most advanced class.
Instead, you’d begin with an introductory course that started you out with the
basics. Then, you’d be given some short, simpler exercises to practice with.

Well,
public speaking is no different. If you’re not used to speaking publicly, your
first public speech shouldn’t be a long one. Instead, try a shorter speech
that’ll get you used to speaking in public. A one to three-minute speech is a
great length for beginners. Try an introductory speech, for example such as one
where you are introducing another speaker, a performance, a movie, or something
else. You won’t be expected to talk for long—and
you won’t be the main attraction.

2. Choose a Familiar Location

You’ll be more comfortable giving your speech in a familiar
location. If you’re giving a business presentation, choose your own company’s
facilities if you can rather than going to a client company. With a familiar
location you’ve already got an idea of what the facility is like. You know how
many people can be seated in the room. You’ve got an idea of whether the room
is hot or cold and what the lighting is like. These factors can make public
speaking less stressful. However, if you can’t give your presentation at a familiar
location, don’t worry. Do try to check out the location in advance if you can
to reduce your anxiety.

3.
Know Your Topic Well

The better you know that topic that you’ll be speaking on,
the less likely you are to be caught by surprise when an audience member brings
up an unexpected question. You’re also less likely to forget what you’re going
to say and find yourself grasping for words if you’re well-versed in your
subject matter. So, learn as much you can about your topic matter before giving
your speech.

4.
Choose a Topic You’re Passionate About

Many
speakers find that their nerves vanish when they’re talking about something
they care deeply about. Their passion for their topic overrides any fear of
public speaking that they’d otherwise have. This could be true for you as well.
If you’ve got a topic you’re passionate about and need to write a motivational
speech, use the tips in this helpful tutorial to get ready:

5. Organize Your Material

You may be nervous about giving your presentation, but
sometimes there’s a good reason for those nerves. For example, if you haven’t
planned your presentation and you’re not quite sure what you’re going to say,
then you have a good reason to be nervous.

Don’t leave the success of your presentation to chance. Plan
it carefully. Start by writing a good, well-organized speech. Next, make sure
that your presentation looks professional. If you’ve never written a speech
before or if your speech writing skills are rusty, this tutorial can help:

6. Make Good Use of Tools and Templates

As
I just mentioned, how your presentation looks affects how you feel about it. If
you know your presentation looks good, you’re likely to be more confident when
you give it. The best way to make sure that your presentation looks good is to
make good use of your presentation software. One way to do that is to take
advantage of professionally
designed presentation templates
, such
as those available through Envato Elements or GraphicRiver. You
can also learn more about your presentation tool by studying our Google
Slides
 tutorials, PowerPoint tutorials, or Keynote
tutorials.

7. Practice
Your Speech—a Lot

If
you’ve been following any of my public speaking tutorials, you know that I
emphasize practicing your speaking to improve your skills. There’s a good
reason for that. In general, practice works. Practice helps you to feel
prepared and also serves the added purpose of helping you to get familiar with
your material. So, if your fear of public speaking has got you anxious about
giving your next speech, work in some practice sessions before you speak. For
some tips on how to make the most of your practice sessions, take a look at
this tutorial:

Don’t
overdo practice, though. For example, don’t stay up late into the night the day before your speech practicing. Your
rest is important too.

8. Use
Props and Extras

If
you’re afraid of public speaking, one way to handle it is to make sure that
your presentation doesn’t require you to speak much. You can accomplish this by
incorporating engaging props and other extras into your presentation. Here’s a
list of props and other extras that can help you to reduce your actual speaking
time:

  • An engaging video
  • Another
    speaker
  • A question and answer panel
  • An audience activity

If
you choose to give this type of speech, you’ll be acting more like a
facilitator than a speaker. The key is to use high-quality extras and tie it
all together neatly for your listeners.

9. Use
Positive Self-Talk

If you
tend to be hard on yourself, you could be adding to your own public speaking
anxiety by thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong during your
speech. If this is you, make a conscious effort to change your thought
patterns.

One
way to start attack negative thinking is by realizing that most of the bad
things that you’re imagining are unlikely to happen. Next, realize that even if
something does go wrong it’s likely to be something minor that no one will
notice. Finally, picture yourself having completed your speech successfully.
You can even imagine your colleagues, friends, or family members congratulating
you. If you find yourself slipping back into negative self-talk, tell yourself
firmly “I’ll do well with this speech.” Repeat this phrase as often as needed.

10. Lead a Discussion

In
some ways, leading a discussion is easier than giving a speech. In other ways,
it may be a bit harder since you’ve got to manage others and keep them on
track. But, like using props and other extras, leading a discussion reduces the
amount of actual speaking you’ve got to do. If it’s the actual speaking that
has you worried, knowing that you don’t have to do a lot of talking yourself
can reduce your public speaking anxiety.

11.
Your Speech Mistakes Aren’t Obvious to Others

While
you may imagine that every single audience member picked up on that awkward
pause, missed point, or other minor mistake—the truth is that your listeners
probably didn’t even notice. They’re especially unlikely to notice if you
project an air of confidence
while giving your speech
Even
if your audience does notice the mistake, they probably don’t mind a few mistakes if the
majority of your speech goes well. Besides, even experienced speakers make
mistakes. So, if you find yourself stumbling during your presentation, don’t stress
over it. 

12.
Darken the Room

If the
idea of giving your speech in front of a live audience has you spooked, you can
ask that the room be darkened so that you can’t see anyone while you speak. That
way you won’t be put off by your listeners’ facial expressions during your
presentation. If you can’t see your audience, you’re less likely to be intimidated by them. This tip works well if your presentation room has separate
lighting for the stage area (where the speakers are).

13.
Have a Great Lead-In

The
better your speech starts, the better it’ll go. Plus, as a speaker, you can
often tell if your opening is well-received and knowing that your audience is
receptive early in your talk can bolster your confidence. And, if you can engage your audience at the beginning of your speech odds are better that you’ll hold their attention throughout it. So, invest some extra
time into finding just the right lead-in for your speech.

14.
Remember to Breathe

Surprisingly,
one of the biggest obstacles to giving a speech successfully is not breathing
properly. It’s easy to speed up your speech and forget to breathe if you’re a
bit nervous. (I know about this struggle first-hand.) Sadly, not breathing
properly while you’re giving a public speech can create a vicious cycle. Not
only does not breathing properly make you uncomfortable, it affects the way
your voice sounds to your listeners and makes you sound less confident. So,
work strategic pauses into your speech that give you a change to catch your
breath.

15.
Watch Others Give Speeches

If
you’re new to public speaking or especially fearful of speaking in public it
can help to listen to others give speeches. You can learn from the
techniques that other speakers use, and you can also reassure yourself by
noticing that even experienced speakers aren’t perfect and make mistakes. Ted
Talks online is one popular source of speeches that you could listen to prepare
yourself for giving a presentation. I’ve compiled some of my favorite Ted Talks
in this article:

16. Write Down Positives About Yourself Before
You Speak

Maybe
one reason you’ve got a public speaking fear is that you don’t feel qualified
to give a presentation. However, if you’ve been asked to speak publicly there’s
a reason. You’re likely more qualified than you realize. You can reassure
yourself and fight your public speaking fear by listing some of the positives
about yourself before you give your speech. Start by finishing off this
sentence, “I’m qualified to give this speech because…” Possible answers might include:

  • I’m
    qualified to give this speech because I’ve worked in this field for X years.
  • I’m
    qualified to give this speech because I’ve studied this topic by doing X &
    Y
    .
  • I’m
    qualified to give this speech because I’ve got firsthand experience of how this
    affects people.
  • And so on…

17.
Get to Know Your Audience Members Before Speaking

If it’s
the idea of getting up and talking in front of a bunch of strangers that’s
making you nervous about giving a public presentation, try this tip on how to
get over your fear of public speaking. Arrive at the speaking venue early and
mingle with members of your audience by striking up casual conversations. As
you get to know a few members of your audience, they cease to be strangers. In
particular, take note of those people who seem friendly. Keep those people in
mind as you give your speech.

18.
Be Fair to Yourself

If
you’ve got a fear of speaking in public, there’s a possibility it’s because
you’re a perfectionist. As a perfectionist, you’re probably way too hard on
yourself and you may be tempted to think there’s no way your speech will be good
enough. In fact, some studies such as this one mentioned by the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology
have found a link
between perfectionism and burnout
. If
this is you, don’t judge yourself so harshly (and don’t quit). Instead, use one of the other public speaking anxiety tips to keep yourself from giving up. 

19. Be Truthful

Lying
makes most people nervous. And the nervousness can contribute to your public
speaking anxiety. So, if you’re not sure
of some of the information in your presentation, limit your presentation to
only those facts that you are certain about. If you must include something that
you’re not sure about (such as when a boss makes you include it) admit that you’re
uncertain about the information or that you need to study it more. You’ll feel
better about giving a speech when you’re confident the material you present is
correct.

20.
Smile

Most
people don’t realize it, but smiling can have a positive effect on your
attitude. As this article from Psychology
Today
explains, the positive
effects of smiling
start in your body when your brain releases neurotransmitters
that help you feel good. Smiling can also reduce stress and help you to seem
more confident. Plus, you’ll seem friendlier when you smile, which will make
others more receptive to your message.

21.
Exercise Before Speaking

Exercise
is a well-established method of reducing stress and anxiety. So, if you’ve got
a fear of speaking in public don’t skip your daily workout on the day of your
speech if you can help it. The exercise will help calm your nerves and get you
in the right mindset for your speech. Aerobic exercise is thought to provide
some of the best stress relief, so even something as simple as taking a brisk
walk can help.

22.
Use a Power Pose

A
recent technique for improving confidence in public situations is the power
pose, advocated by social psychologist Amy
Cuddy
. The
idea behind the power pose is that your body language can affect your confidence
level. By appearing confident, such as when you stand up straight with your
hands on your hips, you’ll begin to feel
more confident. Does it work? The idea of the power pose has been hotly debated
recently and the jury’s still out on the final answer—but
in the meantime paying attention to your body language and posture as you speak couldn’t hurt.

23. Get Speech Training

If
you’ve got the resources, extra training in public speaking can help you to
feel more confident in your speaking abilities. The right coach can help you
target and overcome any bad speaking habits you might have. Plus, working with
a speech professional will provide you with extra practice.

24.
Join a Speaking Group

If
you don’t have the resources to hire a speaking coach, joining a group dedicated
to improving your public speaking skills can offer many of the same benefits. And
you’ll also benefit from networking with others who’ve got an interest in
improving their public speaking skills. One popular public speaking group is Toastmasters International, which
can be found in 141 countries worldwide.

Download Our Free PDF eBook on Making Great Presentations

We’ve got the perfect complement to this tutorial, that’ll help you take your presentation know-how further. Learn how to write, design, and deliver great presentations. 

Download The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that’ll move your audience.

The complete guide to making great presentations

Start to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking Today

We’ve
just shared over 20 public speaking anxiety tips to help you overcome your fear
of public speaking. Hopefully you’ve found one or more tips that’ll work for
you. Good luck on your upcoming presentation!

Let’s
make this article a great resource for others. If you’ve got a tip that helped
you overcome your public speaking fear and it’s not already listed in the
article, why not share it in the comments below?