Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking is not just for the shy or introverted. Study shows the number one fear among people is public speaking and surprisingly, death comes in at number two.
When put in other words, people would prefer a coffin over a podium.
Speaking in front of an audience can send you on a roller coaster of fear and emotion. Your mouth goes dry, your palms begin to sweat and just as you’re about to speak, your mind goes blank. Public speaking anxiety can make people’s bones shiver and teeth clatter.
Yet it doesn’t have to be like this. Once you learn a few key techniques, you can transform this experience into one that is both exhilarating and fulfilling to you and your audience. Public speaking is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and mastered.
So, here are the top 10 ways to overcome the fear of public speaking:
1. Make a complete script of your entire speech
Jotting the points down for your speech can work fine if you are comfortable with the audience. But if you are a beginner and fear speaking in front of a crowd, you might mumble and take a long time to connect the dots leading your delivery to be weak.
Also, don’t write the entire speech in one paragraph. Break the script into as many paragraphs as possible, most likely a 2-3 sentences section.
It will be easier for you to recall them later than mug up the entire speech.
This complete script allows you to be more confident and makes your mind clear on what you need to speak to avoid Umms on the stage.
2. Memorize the speech
After writing the complete script, you need to memorize the speech. Anyone who looks at the paper and delivers the lesson is rarely impressive.
For memorization, visual methods are beneficial when it comes to speeches.
Studies suggest that visual learning methods are 83% more effective than memorizing the texts.
Assign different images for numbers: 1 for stick, 2 for duck, 3 for heart, 4 for chair, etc. Then assign the points you need to deliver with the images.
Let me give you an example: Say the point on the script is about sexual harassment, and if it is a number one point, you imagine that there is a stick that walks alone at night and goes to the places where people are sleeping magically and beats them up until they undress. The funnier the image is, the easier it is retained.
So, when you go to the stage, the number 1 point is the stick, and I have a visual memory of the stick associated with sexual harassment.
3. Practice delivering the speech
This section on practicing to deliver the speech has two parts:
a. Practice what you are going to speak
Once you have memorized the speech, the next step is to practice it. It would be best to practice it as your life depended on it. There is no shortcut to it.
Practice from head to toe of the speech. Practice the exact way you are going to deliver it. From the greetings to the goodbyes, practice every tiny detail of the speech and leave no stones unturned.
Your tone of voice, speed of speech, volume, and emphasis plays a huge role. These are the make-or-break parts of the speech.
When you are striking the central theme or hitting the bull’s eye, you need to raise your voice and make it more commanding. It is crucially important that you rehearse the same way you plan to speak.
b. Practice how you are going to speak
When practicing, it is often advised to practice in front of the mirror.
This allows you to observe your facial expressions, gestures, and body movements. Make sure that your body language coordinates with what you are speaking. When you are practicing for the speech, you also need to practice your nonverbal skills.
According to the 7% rule, only 7% of what you speak is verbal. The rest of the communication is carried out through nonverbal expressions such as gestures, hand movements, and facial expressions.
So, one has to pay special attention to them to make sure that you are not undermining them or making them overkill. You can use your smartphone to record and then play to see how you are practicing the nonverbal part of speech.
Doing a rehearsal speech in front of another person or a group of audience is a great way to determine which part of the speech you are messing up or finding challenging to deliver.
Once you have discovered the parts of speech that you are the common pitfalls, you should work more on them until you become absolutely confident that you have mastered them.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
Although the nervousness might make it challenging to get sleep, you need to get a good rest before the big day.
Relieve the stress in your head by saying that even if you mess it up, it will not be the end of the world.
Sleep consolidates the memory, ensuring that your memory does not become volatile even when you are stressed, and your memory will not leave you high and dry.
So, forget the world, the stage, and the podium and pamper yourself into getting a good night’s sleep.
5. Exercise on the morning of the day
Studies suggest that exercise prepares the brain cells to handle other forms of stress better.
So, you might as well go for a jog or stretch a bit. This will get you to deal with the stress later on and put you in a positive mindset.
6. Keep on preparing before you deliver
Most of them say that you should relax before you take the stage.
Not only is that absurd but also close to impossible. With stress hormones going crazy in your body, there is only a fool’s chance that you would be able to relax.
A study has found that people who felt excited performed better than those who relaxed.
So, instead of forcing yourself to relax, keep on preparing even 2-3 hrs before you take the stage. At this point, focus mainly on the parts of the speech where you find yourself comparatively weaker than the rest of the speech.
7. Turn the table of fear into your favor
When you are a few hours away from confronting public speaking, it is natural for fear to get more real. Don’t let yourself to be crippled by them. Turn that fear around as a challenge.
When your brain imagines the worst scenario, don’t get dragged down. I often speak to myself and tell things like, “The game is on” Or “You can do it”.
A study has found that people who talk to themselves using their name performed better than those who referred to themselves as “I” in their monologues.
When you enter the stage, sideline the “what if it fails” attitude. Don’t overthink the results. Enter the stage with some positive thoughts.
I often say things like, “Its show time” or “Now, let me rock you”. These thoughts put me in a positive mindset and I feel like I am already ahead in the game that is yet to begin.
8. Maintain strong eye contact before you speak
If you get time, talk informally with a few members of the crowd in the front row before you get up on the stage. Finding friends to focus on will make you feel comfortable when you start delivering your story.
Give yourself 3-4 seconds to make eye contact with the audience. These few seconds will be of immense help as they will help you accommodate the stress better before the speech starts.
Eye contact plays an authoritative role over the audience which will boost your confidence.
9. Take the power stance on the stage
With fear chewing the bones, one often is lured to lay low in a corner. This is suicide when it comes to public speaking.
Making yourself appear like a gigantic figure with legs wide and hands spread helps you reduce stress and boost confidence.
It makes you feel more authoritative and more powerful. Also, the audience feels that you are confident and worthy of listening.
10. Focus on your speech rather than the audience
One of the fatal mistakes speakers make is to overthink the reaction of the audience.
There will always be those who are going to yawn or use their mobile phones or chat with their friends when you take on the stage. This can disorient you and drown your confidence.
So, don’t overthink the reaction of the audience. This will only backfire.
Have a strong mindset and be prepared for it. This way, you won’t get distracted during your speech by the reaction of others.