Your palms are sweating, your heart is racing, and there’s a queasy feeling in your stomach. No, you aren’t about to bungee jump or ride the world’s tallest roller coaster– you’re about to speak in public.
Nearly one in four Americans report a fear of public speaking. We’ve seen this fear depicted in movies like The King’s Speech, and comedian Jerry Seinfeld has an entire standup bit about it.
With video calls becoming more common in 2020, we’re experiencing a new form of public speaking. Whether you’re presenting in person or via webcam, you can overcome your glossophobia — a fear of public speaking — by remembering these key steps.
How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
Most of us aren’t born natural orators, and that’s okay. The adage “practice makes perfect” is true here: the more you speak in public, the more confident you’ll feel. Here’s how to get over the initial fear:
Practice your talking points out loud. Rather than just making an outline of key points, practice speaking about these points out loud. Write down your key points on a notecard and stand in front of a mirror, where you’ll be your own “audience.” The more you practice, the better you’ll get at making eye contact with yourself in the mirror. As your delivery becomes smoother, start focusing on your body language, like pausing to smile or gesturing with your hands.
Give your body physical cues. Your mind tells your body what to do, but it will also respond to your body’s actions. Pull your shoulders back and down, engage your core so you stand up straight, point your feet towards the audience, and let your hands fall naturally by your side. This proper posture signals confidence to your audience and your mind: you’re ready for a great delivery!
Be memorable: include relevant stats. People are 20 times more likely to remember the information in a presentation if relevant facts or statistics supported it. You don’t want your audience to drown in data, but a few key stats will drive your message home.
A natural pause isn’t a problem. From job interviews to discussions, we often view silence as something negative and rush to fill any conversation gaps. When you’re speaking in public, remember that a little silence is okay. A pause lets you review what’s coming next and gives your audience time to digest the information you just shared.
Don’t let a mistake derail your presentation. Stumbling over your words, mispronouncing a name or forgetting your next point: these mistakes happen, and the key is how you pick up and keep going. Especially during remote events and meetings, people are much more accepting of the occasional mistake. And we’re often our own worst critic; chances are that moment you thought was terrible was brushed off by everyone in the audience.
Public Speaking Benefits: Financial and Professional Rewards
Public speaking may be a big hurdle for many, but overcoming it offers benefits throughout your career. People with a fear of public speaking make about 10% less money than those who don’t have one.
Think about all the times someone has to present to a group. Whether it’s a pitch presentation or a meeting with colleagues, the person speaking is seen as the group leader, a perception that can boost your career. An engaged public speaking presence is tied to strong leadership skills and there’s a correlation between public speaking and promotion opportunities.
Effective leaders communicate messages in a way that empowers and unites everyone listening. Rather than focusing on your fears about speaking, focus on engaging your audience and creating a positive experience for your listeners.
How did you become a more confident public speaker? Share your success secrets in the comments below.