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Public speaking

Are you someone who’s afraid of oral presentations? Do you get nervous or anxiety attacks when being in front of a large audience? Then don’t worry, you have glossophobia aka fear of public speaking. In fact, this phobia is very common among the human population. Almost 3/4th of the population fears public speaking. Another interesting fact about public speaking is that fear of public speaking ranks above the fear of death according to statistics.  So you’re not alone. Hence, take a deep breath and relax!

There could be plenty of reasons behind the fear of public speaking, out of which the below are the most common ones. 

Reasons behind the fear of public speaking

Lack of content: Lack of content is the foremost reason why people avoid to deliver an oral presentation. When you don’t have something to talk about, it is certain that you’ll avoid it entirely and this like a chain reaction will demotivate you to speak up in front of a large audience.

Fear of speaking in front of an intellectual audience: This happens especially when you show up for the very first time. Speaking amidst a large group of the audience has the possibility to make you fumble and mess up the speech. 

Fear of criticism: All of us fear criticism to a certain level. But in reality, criticism should not be taken personally. If the criticism is constructive it’s good to acknowledge and improvise. If it’s destructive just ignore it to the extent you can as it happens with everybody, everywhere.

Lack of practice: When we don’t practice for enough times, we are sure to spoil the speech. Yet, it’s not that we can’t speak. We do with many, in our professional and personal life.  But we don’t have regular experience while speaking in front of a large and unknown audience on stage. The more you practice this skill, the better you become at it.  

Over expectation of oneself: Beating oneself to prove one’s ability by setting unrealistic expectations in the very first few presentations is a big NO.

Fear of making mistakes: While facing a large group of audience face to face we’ll end up making mistakes out of panic or fear of judgement. But this can be overcome with enough practice. 

Excess use of fillers: Another erroneous thing that we make use of, on stage while presenting is the gap fillers. When we forget the next line we might end up using some fillers to make it look less awkward. But in reality, that’s what will make us look unprepared.

Tips to overcome the fear of public speaking

Practice effectively: Practice and practice even more. Nothing can surpass practising your content. As the adage goes “content is king” when it comes to public speaking. So go and get your content right and practice extensively.

Prepare your script thoroughly: Get your script organized beforehand. When you’re sure of what you’re going to deliver, you naturally tend to have composure over anxiety while presenting your speech. 

Speak on a topic that you’re inclined into: When you speak about a topic that’s close to your heart you’ll focus more on the material at hand and the art of delivery rather than the audience’s response for every word you utter. Also, you’ll have a natural flow state of delivery as the topic is something you’re interested in. 

Practice in front of a mirror: When you practice in front of a mirror you’ll pay more attention to your body movements, gestures and facial expressions. This, as a result, will help you to modify your movements so that you present yourself as welcoming to your audience. 

Forget about others’ criticism: Do not take criticisms personally. If you receive constructive criticism, understand where you should improvise and do the needful. Incase of destructive comments you know what you should be doing. Just ignore! 

Speak in front of different audiences: Be aware of every nook and corner of the topic on which you’re going to talk. When you follow this, you’ll not pay much attention to how the audience would react. On top of that, you’ll have nothing short of confidence as you have done proper research about the topic in prior.  

Practice breathing exercise: Before presenting your speech, you can do a 5-minute breathing exercise to gain your composure back. This ensures that you’re looked upon as a more vibrant and confident personality and people will pay undivided attention to what you have to say. 

Enhance your vocabulary and grammar: When there’s a mess in your vocabulary or grammar, people will lose interest in listening to you. Also by getting them right you’ll be seen as a more eloquent person. And naturally, the flow state of your speech will be clean without having to search for the right words.  

Record your speech and learn your voice: As you follow this, you’ll learn your voice, tone, pitch, pace and as a result, tend to get everything right with numerous practice and delivery of the speech. 

Have a public speaking mentor: A public speaking mentor will guide you in fine-tuning the minute aspects of public speaking. So don’t shy away from approaching them to guide you. In fact, you can present your speech to them personally and get your feedback before you present it in front of a hall of audience. 

 

Focus on the content, not the audience: When your focus is solely on your script you’ll less likely pay attention to specific audiences. Rather you’ll focus more on the way you present your content and be prepared to answer any question that’s thrown at you. 

Don’t overthink (pay attention) to the audience’s reaction: By giving more importance to what your audience has to say, you’re more susceptible to ruin your presentation. Don’t overthink about it. Also when you have done enough of preparation and practice, this will not be a problem for you. 

Join in a public speaking club: To explore speaking avenues you can join the Toastmasters International or other elocution club you’re interested in to improvise yourself as a public speaker. 

Evaluate your progress: Note down the number of times you give a speech and analyse your progress. This will help you in improving your overall public speaking skill. 

Practice meditation: Meditation helps in eradicating any sort of negative thoughts that people most likely tend to have before giving a presentation. So make sure you practice this to maintain your tenor as you present your speech. 

Avoid talking too fast: Don’t fill every moment of your speech with words or by delivering it fast. Make use of strategic pauses as this will be very effective just like speaking, sometimes even more than that. 

Perform your speech in front of someone who can give you unbiased feedback: You can rely upon the feedback of your dear ones, as you’ll not feel offended by their comments and also become motivated to do better.  

Don’t just memorize your script, internalize it and deliver: Do not by heart your script word by word instead internalize and present them in your own way. You should have pointers and examples and know inside out the essence of it. That way, you’ll be more open to deliver in your natural state.

 

Don’t worry about the outcome instead focus on your speaking journey: Don’t give too much importance to the end result. When you have practised extensively, this will not be much of a problem. Be involved in what you do as a public speaker, that’s the way you should go about it. 

Be wary of the time allotted for you to speak: As a public speaker, you should respect the time allotted to you. Make sure you close your speech within the time limit. This ensures that your audience will stay connected with what you say and also this will let you be invited again to speak in the future. 

Don’t give too much importance to the visual aid: The visual aid should support what you have to say, not distract the audience from what you have to say. So keep the visual aids to the bare minimum. 





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