How To Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (Updated for 2024)

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Author Name: Lucas Cook
Date: Wednesday June 7, 2023

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Do you always dream of speaking in front of thousands and sharing your story of how you went from zero to a CEO of a successful company? Do you see yourself in TED Talks? Those people who said every word with confidence were once beginners who fidgeted, avoided eye contact and slouched on a stage. They’ve developed their communication skills for years, allowing them to deliver speeches that get standing ovations every time. You can do the same. How? Learn seven ways to overcome your fear of public speaking and make every engagement memorable.

What Causes the Fear of Public Speaking?

how to overcome fear of public speaking - an anxious speaker

Glossophobia is a medical term that refers to an intense dread of public speaking. It’s a form of anxiety disorder under the category of phobia. Those who have it experience persistent and extreme fright of speaking in social settings for fear of being embarrassed or ridiculed by others. 

Fear is a normal response to a stressful situation, but those with this condition face negative consequences affecting their career, success and quality of life. 

What Prompts Glossophobia?

Health experts don’t know the exact cause, but several factors contribute to why it happens. It can be due to genetics and multidimensional factors, encompassing environmental, psychological and biological. 

If it runs in your family, you have a high risk of acquiring the condition. Meanwhile, some people develop it due to their upbringing. For instance, if you’ve been consistently criticized for your speech patterns or pronunciation when you were younger, you may withdraw and fear speaking in front of people.

7 Tips To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

how to overcome fear of public speaking - a speaker gesturing using hands

How do you stay calm when presenting and speaking? Fortunately, the fear of the crowd is treatable and anyone can get better with a combination of psychotherapy, lifestyle changes and medications. In addition, here are seven strategies to help manage your anxiety when facing others.

1. Preparation is Key

How do you acquire confidence if the mere thought of speaking in a crowd makes you excessively jumpy? The key is to practice in front of the mirror. How does it help?

Looking at yourself allows you to tap into a new inner strength and manage the intensity of your emotions. Read your speech several times in front of the mirror while letting each word down in your heart to the point that you can deliver it with conviction if you’re woken up at 5 a.m. Practice breeds familiarity with the topic, which boosts your confidence.

2. Do a Few Small Jobs

A checklist of how to be socially confident is useless if you don’t put what’s in there into action — it’s what drives rewards. So, engage in small endeavors that give you confidence. 

Do you need a host at your family’s get-together? Volunteer for the role. Do you have a skill to share? Do community workshops. Remember that 80% of your progress comes from 20% of your efforts, so obtaining experience from small engagements makes a massive difference in your skill. It builds your self-esteem and fine-tunes your delivery, presentation and public speaking techniques.

3. Focus on the Audience

Care less about the outcome or what people think of you. Instead, zoom in on the audience. Consider the purpose of your message and how it’s greater than your fear of speaking. If what you’re about to say can make a difference in even one person’s life in the audience, you have an obligation to deliver it most effectively, benefitting the listeners. 

Shifting your perspective from internal fear to outward factors — like your audience and the importance of your message — can help overcome your anxiety about speaking in front of thousands.

4. Participate in Competitions

Joining competitions is even more beneficial in building confidence than facing yourself in the mirror. If you get an opportunity, try it at least once. The goal isn’t to win but to immerse in the feeling of the crowd’s focused eyes on you and learn to manage the pressure. 

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit company that organizes speech contests in many categories and teaches practical strategies to improve your delivery. You can join their program to sharpen your communication chops. 

5. Recompense With Techniques

Good communication is learned and honed with years of practice and experience. Even a seasoned public speaker still feels nervous on stage, but techniques can compensate for these shortcomings. 

For example, use hand gestures to emphasize specific points. Be also comfortable with the pause. A person lacking in confidence will use fillers like “uhm” to avoid the awkwardness of silence if they forget their next point. If it happens to you, pause and use those few seconds to recall what you’re about to say. Otherwise, you can ask the audience where you left off and start from there.

6. Talk as if You’re Speaking to One Person

One to many? Absolutely no. Speaking to a crowd is intimidating, but not to an individual. Does talking to a stranger at a coffee shop make your palm sweat? — probably not. 

Applying the same logic, break down your audience into single individuals to make speaking less terrifying. When you talk, look into every person’s eyes and think about engaging in a personal conversation with them as opposed to presenting to hundreds. It makes the pressure more manageable.

7. Visualize Your Success

Envision a successful speaking event, but don’t be obsessed with it. After all, its true measure lies in how your audience uses and applies the knowledge they learn from you. Visualizing a favorable outcome helps minimize negative thoughts about your performance and ease nerves.

What Are the Benefits of Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking?

how to overcome fear of public speaking - a focused audience

Getting on stage feeling less anxious and scared allows the audience to completely focus on your message. Here are its upsides:

  • You can establish emotional connection: When you’re calm, you deliver resonating and humorous anecdotes more effectively, captivating the listeners’ attention and connecting with them at a deeper level.
  • You can make your speech interactive: Just because you’re speaking doesn’t mean you can exclude the audience. Only self-focused people do this. Encourage your audience to participate by asking questions and giving them a few moments to self-reflect.
  • You can leave a lasting impression: Focusing on your audience and the message and ending your speech with a strong takeaway will make it more memorable and impactful.

Deliver an Excellent Speech

Good communication skills are learnable through practice, experience and polishing your techniques. There’s no shortcut to developing your expertise. Try the seven strategies above to learn how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

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