If you feel fear or anxiety when it comes time to speak in front of other people, you’re not alone. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common phobias out there.
A fear of public SPEAKING is a common and normal experience for many people. Here are the best places to start to overcome and manage this phobia.
- Speak about your passions and interests
- Practice and practice some more
- Exercise and stay healthy
- Always make sure you’re adequately (or over) prepared
- Keep your focus on the task at hand
- Include visual aids
- Never stop improving
- Get organized
Finding ways to manage and overcome a fear of public speaking is no small feat. But as an experienced emcee, I’ve learned the best ways to erase your fears and deliver a killer speech from the very start.
Speech Anxiety And How To Overcome It
Public speaking anxiety is a genuine speech concern for many people and a widespread phobia. It’s believed that up to 75% of people have glossophobia or a fear of public speaking.
Public speaking can bring out our deepest fears. And it’s more than normal! So don’t feel out of place if you feel anxious when someone asks you to give a speech – or talk in front of people at all, for that matter.
Throughout my years as a professional and experienced emcee, I’ve learned the best ways to manage public speaking fears. There’s a reason why I’m called the “Tom Brady of emcees,” after all!
Public SPEAKING can be nerve-wracking. But it can also be incredibly straightforward with these next tips in your back pocket!
#1. Speak About Your Passions
Speak about something you’re passionate about. When we talk and communicate with the people around us about our most profound passions, it’s that much easier to open up and feel comfortable!
Let’s say you’re passionate about guitars. Whenever you meet new people with the same musical interests as you, it can be relatively easy to start a conversation and connect.
Even if these people are strangers, your shared passions are able to light an insatiable fire for communication!
The same thing goes for speeches. Even if you are required to speak on a subject you don’t have an intense internal fire for, connect it to something you are passionate about. The best speakers know how to make an excellent speech out of anything.
Your speech can be about something that has impacted you personally, a subject you want to share with those around you, or a topic you can speak about from the heart.
Feeling passionate about your material is key to improving your public speaking skills and helping you feel confident in your message!
#2. Practice Giving Speeches
To be successful at most things in life, we need to undergo a certain amount of practice. Athletes, artists, students, and business professionals must regularly exercise or study their craft to learn and grow.
The same goes for public speaking. Practicing a speech or presentation before giving it has two primary purposes.
1) Practicing allows you to improve your public speaking skills and become a better speaker.
2) Practicing can erase any pent-up anxiety or tension and help you feel adequately prepared.
Practice in front of a mirror, in front of family members, or record yourself with a video camera to watch it back. Discover ways to obtain positive feedback about your performance. Find out where you’re falling short, and correct your mistakes.
Also, make sure you feel comfortable making direct eye contact with your imaginary audience. When you feel nervous speaking, it’s common for your eyes to be drawn to the floor or some other meaningless place.
#3. Exercise Beforehand
Speaking is a physical act. And public speaking anxiety can often manifest itself physically.
Exercise and physical activity have many health and wellness benefits. It’s easier to feel relaxed and comfortable when we are in tune with our bodies.
Plus, exercise can do many things for our mental and physical health, like:
- Igniting and inspiring creativity
- Getting our brains moving
- Relieving nervous energy and helping our bodies relax
All of these things are key in relieving public speaking stress.
#4. Always Be Well Prepared
Preparation is key. For any speech, you should always be adequately prepared and organized.
But for those with stage fright or a fear of public speaking, preparation can do more than show our boss that we did our research.
Speech preparation is about more than just putting together a PowerPoint presentation. Memorizing material, rehearsing hand signals and facial expressions, and even practicing relaxation techniques can contribute to a successful and comfortable speech later on.
Preparation gives our minds confidence that we have the tools and skills necessary for a triumphant speech.
Preparation can include tactics and activities like:
- Taking a public speaking class
- Practicing breathing exercises to reduce anxiety
- Consistently reviewing your presentation and its main points
#5. Keep Your Focus On Your Speech
Glossophobia is considered a social anxiety disorder and can be difficult for people to manage. Public speaking can awaken profound stress and anxiety for many people, even if it’s not in the midst of a large crowd.
Our Natural Fight Or Flight Response
Speaking in public can trigger intense stress, anxiety, and fear. Our bodies and minds react in this way because our minds perceive this stress as a threat.
The human body’s physiological response to these perceived threats is known as the fight or flight response.
This can be manifested in physical symptoms like sweating, shaking uncontrollably, dry mouth, and difficulty breathing. Resisting our body’s natural response to stress can be difficult.
That’s why finding healthy and trustworthy methods to ease our social phobia is essential.
Why Do We Get Public Speaking Anxiety?
Most people fear public speaking because they are hyper-fixated on the audience.
The fear of negative or hostile audience reactions can cause our minds to fill with dread and tension.
Sometimes, we forget to focus on our speech and the message we are trying to communicate. And instead, we get caught up in our heads.
The key is to focus on your message. Eliminate audience distractions. There’s bound to be an audience member playing on their phones or zoning out. Don’t take it personally, and don’t fixate on it.
Practice breathing exercises to help your mind and body relax if you start to feel your inner pressure rise.
#6. Include Visual Aids For Some Help
Walking into a public speaking or emcee gig without a visual aid is like trying to ride a horse with no saddle. I’m not a horse person, but I know it’s much easier to ride a horse with a saddle versus without.
And especially if you get nervous or anxious speaking in public, it would be wise to ensure you have a visual aid.
Many people can get afraid or anxious that they might forget talking points and draw a blank. And that is indeed a scary situation.
But knowing that you have a helpful visual aid at your side is a great way to effortlessly manage speaking anxiety. A visual aid tells you you’re not alone and that you have help if you need it!
Just ensure when creating a visual aid that it is beneficial to the speech and won’t hinder you from getting comfortable on stage.
#7. Never Stop Working On Improvement
No one is perfect. And focusing on delivering the perfect speech will leave you disappointed.
Managing your fear isn’t about giving a perfect speech the first go around. It’s about developing and growing as a speaker, so each performance is better than the last.
So focus on improving! Try to garner feedback whenever and wherever you can, and find ways you can do better.
Ask yourself these questions when looking back on past speeches or practice sessions:
- Did I use filler words such as “um” or “like”?
- Did I use pauses to make my words more impactful?
- Was my body language that of someone sure of their words?
- Was I performing any distracting movements like rocking back and forth, fiddling with my hands or an item, or facing away from the audience?
- What were my facial expressions like?
- How was my intonation?
Ask yourself, “How did I do?”
#8. Get Organized
Like being prepared, being organized is critical in easing your fear of public speaking.
Preparation is more about what happens before your speech (rehearsal, practice, and exercise). But organization has to do more with what happens during your speech.
Nothing is worse than your disorganization coming out right in the middle of your speech. That’s nightmare material and a great way to exacerbate your public speaking fears.
First, you need to ensure your speech itself is organized. Start your message with an attention-grabber. Rehearse with your visual aids. Color code your notecards and ensure they are minimal and easy to use.
Make sure to also familiarize yourself with the technology.
If you’re going to be giving a virtual speech, ensure your laptop and video meeting software are updated. If speaking in person, become acquainted with the microphone, projector, or screencast software.
Ask questions to those also involved in the event. Ask if someone will welcome you on stage or if you should wait for a cue. Ask if there will be a podium or if you will have nothing.
Each question you ask will help ease your mind and get you completely organized for the big speech.
Public speaking can be scary and nerve-wracking. But it can also be incredibly rewarding to overcome your phobias and deliver an outstanding performance!
With these tips in mind, you’re ready to go on stage. Good luck!
Keep Reading: 9 Tips For Being The Best Moderator
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.