Public speaking why are so many people terrified of the thought of it? You could be the most confident person around but if someone asked you to speak in front of a crowd of people you would, probably, immediately start to sweat, shake and feel very sick. It is a fact that Americans fear public speaking more than death. The British fear it less – they fear death more!
Glossophobia or the fear of public speaking is similar to stage fright.
Most actors go through stage fright at some point in their career. The American actress Daryl Hannah went to the hypnotist Paul McKenna to overcome her stage fright – it was her first time on stage. British actor Steven Fry actually didn’t turn up for his stage performance – he fled the country instead – because he could not face the theatre audience.
These are just some examples of professional people who themselves suffer from the fear of appearing in front of large crowds. Though these two actors were confident in front of a camera but when it came to appearing live on stage with a vast crowd looking at them their confidence withered and panic set in.
One of the reasons so many people fear public speaking is because when at school they were asked to read in front of the class and when the teacher corrected mistakes it would obviously trigger the other children to mock the reader. (Teachers tend to point out the mistakes children make instead of reinforcing children on how well they are doing.)
This fear stays with the child until adulthood and it eventually becomes a phobia. The thing is all you need to know on how to overcome your fear of public speaking is three things:
1. Manage your state
2. Know your content
3. Speak with passion
Manage Your State:
What I mean by manage your state is that, say a famous actor suffered from stage fright and this was his strategy on how he felt scared before going on stage:
First: he imagines that some people in the audience are critics and are saying horrible things about him, i.e. “God he’s crap, he is as stiff as a board. He should go back to working in a factory.”
Secondly: he starts to feel his body stiffen because of the imaginary “remarks” he then makes a few dialogue errors because now he believes that everyone hates him.
Thirdly: he then starts a negative internal dialogue with himself imagining what the critics are saying. I.e. “He is past his sell by date.” The more he believes in his negative internal talk the more he makes mistakes.
If this actor was managing his state properly he would have this strategy, he would:
1. Imagining that when he walked on stage that the critics would think of him as a great actor i.e. “What a great actor he is. He gets better and better.”
2. With this positive self-talk going on in his mind he would automatically become more relaxed and confident with his performance.
3. As his performance progresses he becomes confident that he has done a good job and that the critics are more than happy with his performance.
Know Your Content:
Also remember it is very important to know your content inside out before you go up there to do your speech. If you don’t know your speech inside out you can seriously harm your presentation and your self-confidence.
Speak with Passion
Whether you are a professional public speaker, actor or just do the occasional speech, it is important to speak with a passion about your subject. If you are passionate about something it will come out in your voice and the audience will automatically warm to you.
5 Steps to overcome fear of public speaking
- Think about any upcoming public speaking performance you may have coming up.
- How do you want to feel during your performance, i.e. enthusiastic, passionate, confident, etc.
- Now visualize a circle on the floor. Now fill the circle with the feeling you want to have during your speech.
Think of a time in the past that you last felt your chosen feeling be it confidence or whatever. Now say, “I fill this circle with confidence and I stand in a confident manner. I am confident with how I look, stand and act. I am also passionate, enthusiastic and motivated to be the best at all I accomplish.” Substitute whatever feeling you have chosen instead of confidence if you want to. Remember to be in the moment when you recite these words.
- Now it is time to step into the circle and allow the feeling you desire to spread all over your entire being. Imagine yourself doing all the things you want to do and as soon as the feelings starts to fade step out of the circle. Recharge the circle with all the emotions you desire and then step back into the circle.
- This exercise should be repeated at least 5 times until you automatically feel the way you wish to feel during your public speaking performance, so that you can do the speech with confidence!
So the above 5 tips will help you overcome the fear of public speaking. So don’t procrastinate go and become that POSITIVE GIANT that you know is already inside of you! Good Luck!