Practice Your Public Fears Away
You are standing in front of your class. It is time for that presentation you have spent weeks preparing. The teacher has nodded, signaling that you can begin. Your classmates sit and stare, awaiting your words. After all that preparation, and all of that hard work, you find yourself awash in silence. Rapid heartbeats, beads of sweat, and heavy breathing abound. You have a fear of public speaking, and you are definitely not alone.
Many adults often cite public speaking as their number one fear – even more than heights or death. As crazy as that may sound, many of us find it difficult to think straight once we have many eyes set upon us, even if we are talking about something we could discuss with ease to just one pair of ears. This universal phobia has many causes, and also has many ways to overcome it.
It is important to work on the skills we use to communicate. Before you even think about speaking, take some time to practice confident body language. Ensure you are standing straight, smiling, and maintaining eye contact with people in front of you. Be very conscious of your breathing to ensure you are taking slow breaths, and slow down the tempo of your speech. One of the issues many of us have when speaking publicly is talking too quickly. We often do not realize that people need to be able to listen and take in what we are saying, so slow down!
Take advantage of the comfort you feel at home. Practice in front of family and close friends who make you feel at ease. In your room, practice projecting your voice and altering your tone to get a sense of how you can come across to an audience. With those close friends, go out for an evening of karaoke or similar fun outings. A karaoke room with friends gives you a chance to let go of your inhibitions and experiment with different tones of voice in a safe public setting.
When you feel ready, practice in natural, real world situations. When you are at a restaurant with family or friends, make sure you are the one ordering your food. Ask the server questions about the menu, such as modifications or daily specials, even if you do not intend to make those orders. Walk into stores and ask the salespeople about the products they have, even if you have no intention of purchasing anything. These situations help you practice speaking and thinking on the spot, and give you a greater comfort in different social situations. From there, try raising your hand more often in class, or engaging in audience participation in live shows. The more you practice, the more comfort you will gain.
That comfort is essential. Reading an article will not solve anything. Take baby steps. Follow the aforementioned tips by starting with the easiest ones, then building from there. You will be a public speaking professional in no time.
Liles, Maryn. Help Your Child Overcome Public Speaking Fears. Parents. http://www.parents.com/kids/development/intellectual/overcome-public-speaking-fears/
Mamiverse. Present at School: 10 Techniques to Help Your Kid Overcome a Fear of Public Speaking. http://mamiverse.com/help-kids-overcome-fear-of-public-speaking-69484/