Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking or the fear of speaking in general and approximately 74 percent of people in America suffer from it, living with the fear throughout their entire lives. Since the education system doesn’t always provide an outlet for children or adults to master this skill, most are left feeling worried, unconfident and downright afraid to stand up in front of a room and speak. This phobia can be debilitating and can begin to effect the likelihood of scoring job interviews, getting a promotion, or even signing a new client.
Public speaking skills are necessary for every person regardless of age or profession. Possessing these skills can help boost overall confidence in your career, assisting in creating successful job interviews and even help strengthen your personal life as well as your relationship with colleagues. When attending network events, you’ll feel comfortable greeting a group of strangers and when giving a presentation at work, you’ll feel like you’re on top of your game.
As you can tell, there are many rewards that come with mastering this skill that make it worth conquering.
1. Start Small – First and foremost it’s important to start surrounded by a small group of people. When practicing your speech, pitch or presentation, being around a group of trusted friends or colleagues is the best way to start. Once you’re able to feel comfortable around a few people, adding additional people into the room won’t change a thing.
2. Be Prepared by Practicing – We all know that famous phrase practice makes perfect; well it really does! When you give yourself enough time to practice your material you’re able to really know and understand what you’re saying. The biggest fear many face is that they’re unfamiliar with the topic or material and cannot connect with their audience. If you take the time to practice, just as you would anything else, you’ll get into a routine and become much more comfortable. Once you practice enough you’ll begin to realize that the material will flow together in a smooth delivery rather than leave you scrambling for your words.
3. Don’t Memorize – This is probably the most important tip when it comes to public speaking. There’s absolutely no point in memorizing your speech as it will likely leave you disconnected with the audience. Instead, you should know your material inside out. Make use of using three key points, having prompts on subtopics and potential examples to give. This will ensure that you’re able to easily connect what you’re saying back to one of the key points and alleviate the fear of missing a word that could in turn throw you off your entire speech.
4. Engage the Audience – Giving a speech directly to the audience may make you seem even more anxious. The best speeches are those that engage the audience and bring about some type of response. When you’re rehearsing your speech, try to make it a two-way interaction with questions or phrases that imply commentary or evoke emotion from the audience. This will help reduce boredom on their part but will really give you a chance to collect your thoughts, breathe, and reaffirm your mind that you’re on track and you’re doing alright.
5. Find Friendly Faces – Prior to giving the big speech it’s helpful to have a few friends in the audience or the boardroom. This will give you the opportunity to feel calm, as you’re able to glance at them throughout your presentation. A great idea is to have them spread across the room so that you’re able to move from right to left and left to right, making eye contact with the audience. It’s even better if your friends are able to nod their heads as this will give you confidence that you’re doing a good job. It’ll get rid of those butterflies in your stomach when you see them in the crowd and will ensure you’re breathing properly and speaking with clarity.
Overall, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. The best way to conquer your fears is to face them and just like anything else, you just have to keep doing it. Things may not go as smooth as you had hoped but that shouldn’t discourage you from ever trying again. The more speeches or presentations you give, the better you’re going to get. Oh and those butterflies you get before you’re about to present, they will always be there, in some capacity. Take them as a sign that you’re passionate about what you’re presenting on, they show that you really do care and are excited. Embrace that; it will change your attitude on what you’re about to do!