How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking

If you want to advance in life and career, you can’t hide under your desk when it’s time to do a speech or presentation.

Are you an executive, author, salesperson, entrepreneur, or professional with aspirations of success? Think you can avoid public speaking and achieve those aspirations? Alas, you cannot. Studies show that fear of public speaking and the inability to communicate effectively can be a hindrance to advancement – in school and in business. Indeed, Paul Argenti, corporate communications professional, said it succinctly, “If you want to be a leader, you had better be able to communicate.”

Is fear of public speaking stifling your ability to achieve success? Wondering how to overcome fear of public speaking?

Here’s something you might not realize – 90% of people have public speaking anxiety.

The other 10%, the ones who say they have no fear of talking in front of an audience, may say they feel comfortable with public speaking now, but it’s likely that they practiced techniques to conquer their fear of public speaking. And I’d be willing to bet big bucks that even those folks who say they no longer have speech anxiety still feel a rush of nervous energy just before they take the stage. Just like you…

  • Their chest muscles tighten.
  • Their hearts thump rapidly.  
  • Their armpits sweat.
  • Their minds go into overdrive.
  • Their voices go up an octave.
  • Their mouths get dry.

But unlike those people who freak out about their body’s reaction to speaking in front of a group, savvy public speakers know that those feelings are natural. And they know how to manage the adrenaline that kicks into overdrive.

Here’s a great animated video explaining what experienced speakers know about how to overcome the fear of public speaking- that those physical symptoms are caused by the deeply wired fight-or-flight response. And rather than fear those feelings, good public speakers embrace that surge of adrenaline and use it to their advantage. They employ tactics to discharge the energy that is overpowering their brains, get back into their bodies, take a deep breath, calm their minds, and go about the task of delivering a stellar speech or presentation.  

Like you, I experienced performance anxiety, particularly as a young actress in New York and Los Angeles, facing down really stressful auditions. Through years of acting classes and countless stage and screen performances in New York, LA, and around the country, I learned  effective techniques to manage stage fright, so I could show up fully with eyeballs on me, capture the audience’s attention, and let them the best within me.

You too can learn to tame your public speaking anxiety. I’ll teach you everything I know!

So, what are some tips on how to overcome fear of public speaking?

If only there was a “fear of public speaking medication” that you dissolved on your tongue seven minutes before you took the stage, and then presto change-o, your stress level reduced and your charisma amped up! While there is no magic pill, there are things you can do to overcome your fear.

I’ve written a blog post called 6 Tips to Tame the Speech Anxiety Monster, which you may find helpful.  There are many other  good resources out there (like this one, this one, and this one from the Mayo Clinic, as well as this site that shows infographics depicting “fear of public speaking facts” and this example of a “fear of public speaking essay”).

One thing I know for sure about how to overcome fear of public speaking is this:  You have to think like a professional actor and prepare thyself (which is the Principle #3 of my 5 Principles of Transformational Presence.).

Prepare Thyself means preparing your three presence planes:  Your energetic presence (the vibe you put out, which is determined by your beliefs and attitudes), your physical presence (the body or “meat suit” you inhabit– your ability to remain breathing, calm and centered) and your vocal presence (waking up your voice so it is relaxed and ready).

To properly prepare for a presentation, you’ve got to do things like…
  1. Identify the beliefs that are limiting you (what I call The Lies That Bind You), like “Nobody’s going to take you seriously.”
  2. Learn all you can about your subject matter
  3. Learn all you can about your audience.
  4. Prepare a compelling presentation
  5. Rehearse your presentation so it becomes second nature.
  6. Dress not just to impress but to support freedom of movement, breathing and confidence.
  7. Engage in breathing and relaxation exercise to manage your adrenaline
  8. Get your body relaxed but ready by going for a walk, doing push-ups, dancing to music, practicing T’ai Chi or Yoga; or go out to your car, close the doors, and scream to burn off adrenaline.

Overcoming public speaking anxiety is a process. I’ve coached oodles of people on how to overcome fear of public speaking in front of an audience, and what I know is this:  It takes time and effort to overcome the beliefs and habits that have kept you fearful of speaking in public. But the added confidence you’ll feel will be well worth it!

Here’s how I help people with speech anxiety and stage fright:

I know you can overcome your fear of public speaking. And deep down inside YOU KNOW YOU CAN TOO.

 

Call 734.622.0522 to talk with me about how to rock the house the next time you take the podium, take the microphone, or take over the world.

If you prefer that I contact you, then fill out this form, dear one.

default image

I was part of a hi-tech startup and was told by more than one person that my skills in pitching were less than adequate. Pitching the business to investors and potential customers was critical to our success. I was fortunate to take Eleni’s Presentation Skills workshop. Using her methods, I saw almost immediate success. I started performing better in pitch competitions; I won the best of Ann Arbor SPARK Boot Camp, and came in 2nd place at a clean tech conference in Chicago in front of 250 people. And best of all we raised $1.5M for our startup within 9 months. This training changed my life. Now, as the Director for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Macomb Community College, I often speak in front of large numbers and students, community leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs. I do so with a confidence, ease and poise that I didn’t have before. Thank you Eleni.

Derrin Leppek Director / Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, MCC July 19, 2016