Kick Your Fears of Public Speaking!
Pull aside any of your friends or classmates and ask them what they think people fear the most in general, and you will probably get typical responses like: dental visits, heights, spiders, bugs, and darkness. However, you might be surprised to learn, that according to a LiveScience.com article a few years ago, the fear of public speaking is among the top ten phobias.
Of course, phobia is on an extreme level, but most people will say that they experience some type of anxiety when they are asked to speak in public—whether in the workplace, at a formal or informal gathering, or in class. Some students do feel anxious about speaking in class or doing presentations. They prefer to stay quiet even though they are encouraged to participate or they prefer to have the least to do in group presentations. As a result, these students are perceived as lacking in effective communication skills, and—without them even realizing it—hinder the learning process altogether.
If you feel you are one of those students, don’t fret. Even world-renowned motivational speaker Joel Osteen and business mogul Warren Buffett were in the same boat as you at some point in their lives. They are good examples that you too can overcome your fear of public speaking if you work at it. Below are some tips to get you started.
Watch videos of great public speakers.
Instead of spending your spare time watching videos of pranks and cute cats, why not spend some minutes on watching great speeches? The best examples of good public speeches are, of course, from politicians. Also, pay attention to how these speakers use their body language to make a point or to emphasize key points in their speeches. President Obama is a good example of this strategy.
Practice, practice, practice.
We have always been told that preparation is the key to any good speech or presentation. However, what usually happens is that we end up practicing in front of a mirror. Sure, doing so helps us get familiar with the topic or the flow of our speech and presentation, but unless you have the Evil Witch’s magic mirror, you can never really expect to get feedback from your mirror, right? That’s why it is better to practice with an audience—your friends, classmates, or family. You will be surprised at how much their feedback can help you do better.
Sign up for speech classes or impromptu speaking groups.
Many universities and colleges offer classes dedicated to public speaking skills improvement. These classes will definitely help a lot in your goal of overcoming fear of public speaking. However, if you prefer informal setups, there are groups that encourage impromptu speaking. Here, you will pick a random topic and expand on it—all in a matter of minutes.
Engage your audience.
When doing presentations or speeches, always remember to engage your audience. Make eye contact, and pose questions—related to your topic at hand, of course. This will help create rapport between you and the audience, and in a way, will help you become more at ease as you go along with the task.
Go for the big leagues.
You can take it one step at a time or you can do it how Joel Osteen did. Even though he fears speaking in public, he agreed to speak to his ministry on a weekly basis until he got the hang of it. Now, he is one of the most in- demand motivational speakers in the world, filling up conference rooms and even larger venues.