Public Speaking: Beat Your Fear

Posted by Tommye Johnson on October 8, 2013

It’s widely known that people fear public speaking over just about anything else there is to be scared about. Anything.

Statistics suggest nearly three-quarters of people wrestle with the anxiety of public speaking, which can result in racing hearts, sweaty hands and shaky voices when asked to speak in front of others. Even many of those who speak regularly still find themselves fending off nervousness in the moments leading up to a public presentation.

Public Speaking: Beat Your Fear

At Mitchell, we believe it’s OK to be a little anxious about giving a presentation, because it means you care deeply about the situation. But we don’t want that to overwhelm or negatively impact your presentation.

So what can be done?

For starters, don’t channel every ounce of energy into beating your fear. Instead, learn how to manage it and make it work for you. Then try to incorporate these helpful tips:

  • Practice, practice … and then practice some more: Football players run through their playbooks repeatedly. Dancers rehearse their routines as many times as possible. That way, when it’s time to perform, their bodies help lead them through the moment. The same principle applies when you prepare for a presentation. So say it aloud, standing up, and do so as many times as possible. When you do, you’ll discover that you’re able to focus on a variety of factors other than becoming preoccupied with what comes next.
  • Release your nervous tension: If your hands shake, your knees quake or your voice rattles, it’s absolutely critical that you identify and adopt a method that allows you to simply let it go. Take a brisk walk. Wiggle your fingers. Squeeze your fists before speaking. Listen to music beforehand. Sometimes, just going over the presentation in your head when you’re waiting to go on will chase some of the jitters away.
  • Consider your audience: You’ve been asked to speak for a reason. You have information your audience needs or wants. Focus on the goal of helping them rather than on the plethora of fear-causing factors spiraling through your head. Meet as many of the members of your audience as you can beforehand. And remember, your audience is rooting for you to do well.

It takes practice to identify what triggers your fear, how you react to fear and, ultimately, how to manage that fear. So speak in public as often as you can. The more you know, the more you can account for what will happen when it’s time to step in front of your audience.

What tips do you have for overcoming nervousness in front of an audience? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.