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How to push past your fear of public speaking?

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Lead Contributor

Many people share a fear of public speaking. The reasons for it are many. The individual may not feel prepared. I often hear that they do not feel capable and knowledgeable enough in the subject that they are talking about. Many people suffer from Social Anxiety, where they fear social and new situations in general. Public speaking can be so fear inspiring to some that they do not give a speech at all. Or, they can be so overwhelmed with their nerves that they do not present themselves for the talent that they truly are. If we always did what we always do, we stunt ourselves, and we prevent ourselves from exploring opportunities, and engaging in chances for growth. You could be the expert in your field. You could have cutting edge ideas, and they will never reach the masses of a crowd when speaking as they sometimes do with the written word. So then the question becomes even more important, how to we push past our fear of public speaking? What can we do to be able to stand in front of a crowd of people and share our ideas and knowledge with them?

How to push past your fear of public speaking?

Pick something to talk about that you really care about.

It does not hurt if you happen to be very knowledgeable in it as well! Seriously though, if you love a topic, if you feel passionate about it, if you have spent time studying the subject just because it intrigues you, you are bound to give a better speech. People will pick up and feed off of your excitement and your genuine knowledge. While I realize that we do not always get to choose what we are going to be giving a speech about, find an angle that does excite you about it. Even if it is only a small kernel, that kernel can carry you through by lighting you up for even a little bit. Think of every manager who has ever had to sell an idea to their staff that they were not themselves thrilled about, but it was the new mandate, so they needed to make sure that everyone grew to see its merits and get behind it. These are the kind of people, who if they can push past their fear of speaking, can make a difference on a very foundational level.

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Be organized!

There is no greater favor that you can do for yourself than to be organized and prepared. Gather your materials, get them in order, and create an engaging presentation, and practice, practice, practice! When making your presentation, think of what you would want to see if you were being taught too. This means pictures, graphics, and slides that are not overly wordy. While many people worry that making something that is so structured will limit them, it is merely to provide them the structure and security they need. The best public speakers are those who can quickly change course, and who can go with the flow. These are the individuals who can run with a smart idea, or talk about something that is important, but was excluded from the original presentation. These are the people that are do not allow themselves to get rattled. They either answer the question if they know the answer, or they simply say, “That is a great question. Do you mind if I find out and come back to?” People will wait, and they will respect that you care about what they asked.


Master your material!

You want to engage the audience if possible, but if you know your material backwards and forwards, you can always turn to it at times when things feel lost. The other important factor is to have a stress reduction and relaxation routine that you practice any time before you speak. The ideas of sitting and taking deep breaths, or stretching yourself out in yoga poses may make some people feel awkward, but it is about finding what works for you. It could be guided imagery. It could be sitting in the dark and listening to music that soothes your soul. It can even be allowing yourself 15 minutes by yourself in complete silence before you go out in front of a crowd. No matter what the method that works best for you, make sure that it is actually practiced, and not just a theory. You will be amazed how this type of preparation can make a world of difference with how you feel overall walking out and giving your speech. If you put these simple tools into practice, even the most nervous novice, can push through, and become a great public speaker!

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