Discover How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety Fast

Discover How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety Fast

Do you need to overcome public speaking anxiety? You are not alone. Most people are deathly afraid of speaking in public. The anxiety can range from a slight feeling of being nervous to an immobilizing and crippling panic attack. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 74 percent of all people suffer from a form of speech anxiety, also known as the fear of public speaking.

Regardless, if you have something to say, from a big business presentation to standing up at a local school board meeting, you need to face down your fears and overcome public speaking anxiety. Yet, as Mark Twain is credited with saying, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” For many, public speaking is worse than the idea of death. Standing up in front of people to express our thoughts and emotions will have us feeling exposed and vulnerable, kicking in our fight-or-flight instincts.

All that said, public speaking is a skill that every business owner and would-be entrepreneur must master. The good news is that most of us can overcome public speaking anxiety with a few easy techniques. Below is a list of tips for reducing speaking nervousness, and face down your fear.

Tips to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

1. Know Your Topic and Be Organized – The top suggestions from Dr. Craig N. Sawchuk, of the Mayo Clinic, are to know your topic, care about the subject, and prepare well in advance. Taking these initial steps will limit the likelihood of making a major mistake.

2. Practice, Practice, and More Practice – Many people will practice their speech in front of a mirror. However, a study conducted by the late Robert Zajonc, a Stanford psychologist, suggests that practicing in front of a small group will lessen anxiety during the actual presentation.

3. Don’t Aim for Perfection – No one ever has a flawless performance, but the audience will rarely ever notice. Preston Ni, a Fortune 500 organizational coach and trainer, states, “even the best, most experienced speakers make many mistakes. When they do, they recover, keep going gracefully, and all is well.”

4. Tell a Personal Story or Anecdote – Gary Schmidt, the former International President of Toastmasters International, teaches that storytelling is the best way to communicate information.  Moreover, it is best to avoid complicated language and jargon. Leverage your passion and enthusiasm instead of trying to sound like an expert.

5. Let the Fear Flow Through You – Research conducted by TalentSmart, a provider of emotional intelligence (EQ) tests and training products, found that people are more alert and will do better in moderately stressful situations. A heightened level of intensity can create a more compelling speech.

6. Visualize a Successful Outcome – Dr. Sawchuk also touts the power of visualization. Taking the time to visualize the audience, venue, and your performance has the power to build confidence. Visualizing a positive outcome will lessen your negative feeling about speaking in public.

7. Open with a Question or Puzzle – When you open your speech with a question or puzzle, you will take the audience’s attention off you. Instead, those listening are thinking about the issue at hand and not judging you and your performance.

8. Avoid Reading or Memorizing – There is a very big difference between speaking and reading or memorizing a script. Thus, attempting to get every word right will only add to your stress levels. Speaking is more about making an impact with your personality. It is not a dry reading of information.

9. Always Be Yourself – Finally, your audience can sense if you are putting on a show. It is good to study speaker styles, but your own passion and personality are what will capture the audience’s attention. Above all else, speaking is not acting.

What are your thoughts? Do you have recommendations on how to overcome public speaking anxiety? If you have questions or suggestions, please leave your comments below.

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41 Comments on "Discover How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety Fast"

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Conrado
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Conrado

I have always been afraid to speak in groups of people. Which is very inconvenient because I work as a supervisor in a warehouse. Im my work we have to do peptalks. I think what I can really apply is number 2. Practice practice practice. Tuhis will be so useful for me specially when I have to do trainings and orientations. Thank you for you great article . I hope you can post more articles like these in the future.

gf208
Member
gf208

Practice makes perfect. Create confidence by rehearsing the opening and the close plus every section and transition. All the while visualize success! Your audience wants you to succeed.

ecole11j
Member
ecole11j

Oddly enough, I’ve always been more confident and less afraid about public speaking than I am holding intimate conversations. I particularly like the tip about telling a personal story. I’ve always thought of public speaking as being kind of a form of storytelling. Doing a short form of literal storytelling seems like a great way to get your audience engaged and improve your own confidence in the long run.

xobe
Member
xobe
You are absolutely right! Public speech is not an easy task for everyone especially if expected listeners are more than hundreds of people. You need to build self confidence and creativeness so that once you stand in front of those people, you can easily deliver your presentation. Organizing thoughts is a must and try to practice your speech in a quite place wherein no one can disturb you even noisy background. Used your tone voice when speaking, learn how to speak in high tone, mid and lower tone. Just like you are telling a story so that you’ll get the… Read more »
macfais
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macfais
Indeed, I have all utilized those tips for the past 4 years til present. And now, I do not bother to speak in public. I am confident enough that sometimes I forget I have talked a lot. I had delivered already two valedictory speech during my graduation day in elementary and high school. But I would like tell you, my speech are all scripted. I had memorize a whooping three pages of speech but that doesn’t help me gain confidence. Whenever someone older than me, or a stranger, or a group of people approached me to ask something or ask… Read more »
Jim15
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Jim15

That’s very good and very useful content! I’m one of many people who are afraid speaking in public. Everytime that I’m discussing my thoughts and opinions about a given topic just in front of my classmates, I feel nervous and I cannot focus on speaking out my ideas. I think the only problem is that I don’t want to make mistakes.

Haley
Member
Haley
That was exactly my problem before, even in a simple class recitation. It bothers me a lot that I’ll have involuntary movements like lips twiching or my hands will shake and my palm will sweat. I don’t know what to do back then, and I always have to give speech to my schoolmates, parents and proffesors whenever there is a program and I tend to speak too much and somehow mess it up at the end. But maybe that is exactly the reason why I got used with it, and I always keep in mind that I should get over… Read more »
Martinsx
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Martinsx
What a wonderful article this is, it’s definitely going to very useful for most people here on this blog who are having stage fright or addressing public anxiety. Most people today suffer from anxiety of addressing the public, some even piss themselves when being forced to. I can vividly remember during my university days, we normally have stage presentation on several topics, and every member of the department must present his or her topic to the entire class. Some students abscond during these periods, some claim to be ill and most of them that chose to try it out, always… Read more »
Martinsx
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Martinsx

@Haley A classmate of mine told me back then the he used to picture the faces of the audience in front of him as log of wood with him holding machete in his hands in form of microphone. That he sees himself doing was cutting them down with words. This worked for him because he used to be scared of addressing the crowd but he later sucked it up and be good at it.

kingcool52
Member

For me, point 2 and 3 are probably the most important. If you keep practicing then you are better prepared and therefore less likely to mess up anything. Additionally, it allows you to be a lot more confident with what you are speaking about which gives a good impression and can ensure that you do not feel uncomfortable during your public speaking. Not aiming for perfection is also important because you will not worry too much in case you get something wrong.

Martinsx
Member
Martinsx
@kingcool52 Your are actually on point, the saying that practice makes perfection is definitely true, with lots of practice on something that you have to do, would help you to master such task like the palm of hand. You can easily go through it without needing to feel any pressure at all. Let me cite a good example, going back down the memory lane, have you considered why none of us has ever forgotten reading A B C D – Z even till this our adult age? It’s practically as a result of lots of practice and recitation during our… Read more »
jaymish
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jaymish
Many people are afraid to speak in public. I think the fear stems from the fact that you may make a fool of yourself. I think you need to first stop caring what other people think.I think you need to be brave and bold and realize only you matter. I think you needs to be like Donald Trump just say what you have to say, no matter what people think. I love the tips given here. I agree that you should start your speech or presentation with a question or with a puzzle. I think this would encourage the audience… Read more »
szerjhex18
Member
szerjhex18

This is informative. This article can encourage so many people to put their fear aside when they need to speak up in a public or if they need to speak up in front of so many people. Because we need to fight our nervous to deliver our speech well, to make it more understandable the words what are we tried to say. We need it to to become more believable , encouraging, and truthfully.

sammy-san
Member
sammy-san
I accede to all the points which have been mentioned here. No matter how experienced a public speaker is, he or she would always have a tendency to go wrong or to make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. Therefore, it’s imperative to stay calm and to clear the mind. Public speaking is similar to giving a performance on stage. For a musician, it’s important that he or she knows the music score by heart and that he or she is not distracted by unnecessary thoughts such as impressing the audience or acquiring spectacular reviews from critics. A musician could definitely perform at… Read more »
Ray
Guest

Excellent tips. Yeah practice makes perfect, and avoiding memorization helps too. Better to know the topic by heart, outline it in your head and know the talking points, and then practice.

ecole11j
Member
ecole11j
Haley, if it helps, I was always taught that it’s best to pick a spot on the wall in the back of the room and keep your focus on it the entire time you’re on stage. Picking out specific people in the audience doesn’t always work depending on how large the crowd is and how much stage light might be on you; it may make it impossible for you to pick out specific faces. I have found that it really does help with public speaking anxiety though to keep your line of sight on the back of the room instead… Read more »
Martinsx
Member
Martinsx

Memorization is the worst way to plan any presentation, in fact it even puts you in a lot of pressure than you were supposed to be under normal circumstances. To memorize means simply to cram the work and you have to be under constant recitation of the words in your mind to help you not forget one key word in the crammed work, because once you miss one, that’s the end of all the work crammed. I wouldn’t advice anyone to employ cramming in any presentation, because it’s definitely not going to help you out with stage fright.

Martinsx
Member
Martinsx

@sammy-san I completely agree with you on the last paragraph of your comment, making your presentation to be an interactive session is definitely going to help you feel relax and comfortable with the audience you are addressing. It would get you to understand every point of view of anyone that contributes to the topic you are presenting, and this would give you other angles which you can follow and exploit in such presentation.

stunayoshivongola B.
Member
stunayoshivongola B.

Thanks for the advice, Actually practicing speech in front of the mirror is my key to overcome my fear on public speaking but still it wasn’t perfect just be you if you got mistake, well that’s normal.

msmandag1
Member
msmandag1
When I was attending communications class in college, we had to write speeches and have an audience of 6+ people. I knew this class did public speeches, so I left the course for the very end to be taken due to the fear of having to speak in front of people! The first speech was nerve-wrecking, but the speech was only a 3 minute one. We memorized, and gave our speeches just fine. During my practice, I was nervous. Right before I gave the actual speech, I was nervous. After the 2nd speech that we had to write and present… Read more »
joey_2tep
Member
joey_2tep
To be honest, speaking in front of people has always been my issue. I don’t know but when I try to do it knowing there are large number of people looking at me, it really kills my confidence and I would rather stop because I start to feel I’m not making sense at all. The work that I have right now which I have been doing for two years, most of my batch mates have become supervisor and team leaders because of their leadership skills. I really want to be someone else and I really think I should start conquering… Read more »
sammy-san
Member
sammy-san
Aside from being a musician, I also work as an online teacher. It helps to communicate with various individuals all the time. Eventually, I was able to build self-esteem and speak more confidently. It’s the same with public speaking. I agree that it takes a lot of practice and experience. If we learn to face our fears, we’ll be able to conjure enough strength to come in front of people. I have witnessed speakers who stutter and stammer several times. I have seen their sweat beads trickle down. But it’s not something to be ashamed of. Anxiety is a natural… Read more »
RinziSevilla09
Member
RinziSevilla09
Hi, Me myself have this Public Speaking Anxiety, It is really hard to overcome this kind of whatever you call that, since when I was a kid speaking in front of too many people, It feels so bad like you’re thinking Negative Things while you’re speaking in front of them. You’re afraid to speak because of the things going in to your mind such as thinking if you say something wrong or any. That’s why i hate reports and presentations when i was in elementary until college. The only solution in this kind of scenario is to review and always… Read more »
michelle camo
Member
michelle camo

Speaking in front of a lot of people is really hard. I believe it is really a skill if you can speak and let the people really listen to you. This is a very informative article and really helps us on how we could be a good speaker.

Rogue
Member
Rogue
I’m more confident with my writing than my public speaking skills I would rather write in front of a big crowd than talk, silly I know. If I have the option to not do it then I will not but there are situations with no escape. The crowd is overwhelming and their eyes are too intense I thought they are digging holes on me. The most difficult part in my experience is the beginning of the speech. You need to start and connect with the audience but everytime I get up there in front, the words seem flooding my head… Read more »
arcenio42
Member
arcenio42
It’s a very helpful tips you have shared. I’ve been in the “Church” work for several years, trained to preach in front of many people. But even now, I still have the feeling of what they call it “butterfly in the stomach”. One of the training I had in my college years was “speech and communication” and “Public speaking.” Speaking in public is, indeed, a challenging thing to do. I remember I was terribly perspiring during my first try. The tip numbers one, two, four, and seven are truly very useful based on my experience. I especially appreciate tip number… Read more »
ecole11j
Member
ecole11j

@Rogue, I don’t know if it’s necessarily a “bad” move, but I do worry it could come off as unprofessional. I do like the idea from the article of starting off with a personal story or anecdote as an ice breaker. Like I recommended below, a good way to avoid the gaze of the audience is to focus your line of sight on a spot on the wall in the back of the room. I do think it helps to keep you from being nervous to look at the wall instead of the audience.

joey_2tep
Member
joey_2tep

By the way I just want to share this. I was given a task by my supervisor to share the updates that we had two days ago. Thinking that I was gonna speak in front of these three teams with twelve people each starting to get me into my fear again. I just followed your advice to be prepared, be focused and be myself helped me a lot without me memorizing the report. Thanks for the advice and I will consider this as my first to becoming a well known speaker and leader someday. Cheers!!

AmieBotella
Member
AmieBotella
Pubic speaking is really not for everyone. But when you are given a task for it, I say, accept it. I was given a slot to speak in my local church a few years back and I was really nervous to do it. But I did it anyway, created my speech/sermon and practiced speaking in front of the mirror once I was done doing the write up. It also helped me to calm down a little when I admitted to the audience that I was a little bit nervous. It pacified the anticipation and the expectation for both me and… Read more »
rosebusiness8
Member
rosebusiness8
These tips are all applicable to me! I always keep in mind to be myself and “to act normal” before speaking in public. Or to at least have some reminders inside my head to keep my act together whenever I’m in front of many people. But my anxiousness always defeats me. I can still remember that one time we were assigned to discuss a lesson back high school. My reporting partner and I were given at least 2 weeks to study and prepare for the presentation. I swear, I gave it my best and even gave up some of my… Read more »
PenelopeS
Member

I passed my Health, Life and Variable Annuities exam this year, just to do short term work for a company. We had to put on a presentation using Power Point, and that made the speaking in front of a large group so much easier. But you still have to be animated, and personable, and talk to the audience, too. I used the same technique as when I was teaching. Pretend I was an actor on a stage. That really helped me to take care of the butterflies. Thanks for the tips!

kairos407
Member
kairos407
Public speaking is one of my thing. I’m used to speak in front of many people. At first it would be very difficult to do so and that’s okay, everyone is not good on their first time, I remember myself sweating out, mumbling words, and having mental block. But exposing yourself to this kind thing will will up your confidence. I love the point 1,2 and 4. In public speaking its very important to organize your thoughts, otherwise it will be a time consuming listening to nonsensical things and the audience will get bored. Practice is the most important thing,… Read more »
samie peralta
Member
samie peralta

Maybe a lot of us is afraid on speaking in a crowd of people this blog is so helpful to overcome the Public speaking anxiety, I have an experience which i cannot talk and also look at the people when joining some contest made by our school. even when singing and dancing it so hard to face a lot of audience that will judge you if you will fail. this blog is good for the one who don’t know how to overcome that anxiety.

Flex
Member
Flex
Not only public speaking I need to improve in my life but to communicate effectively in everyday conversation. This article is very helpful as even talking to small number of people is difficult for me. That is why I am searching all over the web to know how to improve my communicating skills. And I am agree that practicing always really helps and let the fear flow through you, as well as always be yourself are one of the keys for effective and clear communication of your ideas. I hope one day I master even not perfect these communication skills… Read more »
Taquan1231
Member
Taquan1231
Honestly, public speaking never been my thing but never really been thrown off by it either. I’ve always been the type to find comfort amidst the stage. In the sense of performing I’m usually in a zone where I’m aware that people are watching but more worried about the presentation at hand and making sure the delivery is close to perfection. Sometimes I’m so hyperfocused that I see nobody. One time before a spoken word performance I remember getting a little anxious. Out of advice, someone said to imagine that everyone in the audience is naked. It flipped my whole… Read more »
Trent652x
Member
Trent652x

Pubic speaking has never been one of my strong suits. I always get super nervous where my palms begin to sweat and my body shakes almost uncontrollably. While in college I did attend a course that has helped me tremendously. The teacher of the course simply told me to imagine that the crowd I am speaking to are all infants. It may seem weird, but is has helped me a great deal.

fern2x2001
Member
fern2x2001
I am an introvert and i really fear speaking in public. I sweat a lot and that sweat makes me more nervous that people might notice. As a result, i sweat even more. One tip that i got from a seminar in improving oneself for public speaking is that, I should always look on the forehead of my listeners. I shouldn’t look directly in their eyes but in their forehead. It would be less intimidating for me. And since I’m looking at their forehead, the listeners would “think” that i am looking at their eyes. But little they know that… Read more »
kcboclot
Member
kcboclot

I agree with this article. In my country, the most common reason probably is the failure of the speaker to communicate her/his ideas effectively beacause of the language used. That is why one must widen his/her comprehension first using the language that will be used in the event. Usually, the speaking engagements that happens in my country requires the speaker to use the English language. The english language being only a secondary language in our country, makes it hard for the speaker to effectively communicate his ideas.

Gira0820
Member
Gira0820

It is not a piece of cake to speak in front of a large number of audience! When I was a child, I remember how nervous I was when we performed in a group oratorical contest. We’ve done a lot of rehearsals but anxiety still attacked us. After the contest, we thanked God that we were able to overcome it. He guided us all through the contest and we got an award! The secrets are a regular rehearsal, group prayer before and after the contest and the most important is we did our best.

sweetpot81
Member
sweetpot81

Standing in front of many with your speech is hard specially if you’re not used to it. Practice makes perfect. Give a time to yourself practice infront of the mirror, this is what I usually do. Knowing the topic very well will lead you to a more organized delivery. Any questions your audience ask you, you will be able to answer no matter how depth it is that’s how important knowing your topic is. Having self confidence will make you more of your thoughts and ideas that will make it easier for you as well.

Shanshan
Member
Shanshan
These tips provided are helpful to me. It was a good read and I like that it wasn’t too long and drawn-out. The points were on target. I believe we all suffer from this problem now and then, it is good to feel that sense of relieve to know that there is support; someone thought to write about this. I will be taking this course next semester at university; wish I had taken it from this semester because I am so involved in things I have to do public speaking. At times we have to do presentations at school, I… Read more »