Public speaking terrifies most people, but it doesn’t have to. Study and implement the simple four-step process below and conquer fear of public speaking once and for all.
You will experience more freedom, fulfillment and self-expression than you ever have before.
But — a warning before you read on: Step 1 of the method below might scare you. Keep reading. Step 2, 3 and 4 make Step 1 easy.
And keep this in mind: Public speaking is the No.1 fear in the world. So to master it, will give you an edge over most people in all social situations.
Now, the term “public speaking” is open to interpretation, so let’s first define it. Many people would say it’s the act of one person delivering a speech to a large group or audience.
However, any moment where you stand face-to-face in front of one or more people and you’re the only person talking is public speaking.
So talking to your neighbor Joe and his dog and son as you walk by him on the street also qualifies. Though that’s much less flashy. And it’s a smaller audience.
This means that most people will experience the fear of public speaking at least once in their life and likely many more than that. Experts say that to conquer fear of public speaking can seem to be one of the hardest things to do. The fear is also extremely common. What brings on the fear depends on the situation: Who you are speaking to and where you are speaking are the determining variables. This is why in certain situations the mere thought of communicating can paralyze you.
Conquer fear of public speaking: It’s actually not that hard
Why do we get so scared about talking to other people? Underneath this fear is a universal desire all humans possess: To be accepted. We all like to be liked. To fit in. (This is true even for people who pretend they don’t care what people think. These people have an even deeper fear so they protect themselves by pushing people away. But I digress.)
It’s an evolutionary process that’s hardwired into our species. Our ancestors survived because they learned to collaborate. The reverse, – being ostracized – was a death sentence.
Of course, it’s not like that today. If your communication offends people (usually) you’ll survive, but your biology still maintains its old reflexes. Your body has a built in trigger that alerts you to threats in your environment. Sometimes you’re aware of this behavior sometimes you’re not.
If you manage to speak while still deathly afraid, you will likely experience a mix of physical symptoms such as: sweating profusely; a rapid beating heart; stuttering. Which, doesn’t make for an engaging presentation for others.
Aside from these major annoyances, the affects on your life can be much worse, including:
…and a rather sad existence.
Now imagine if you were in complete control when you spoke? What would that be like? Imagine if you were a super confident casanova-style smooth talking speaker that charmed and engaged and inspired anyone you spoke to?
Now, here’s the critical tip about fear: It’s worth it to train yourself to master the fear long before you’re confronting it, or in full flop sweat crisis.
It may surprise you how easy a feat so daunting as learning how to control the world’s No.1 fear. Read the four step process. Take it on, and rock your life.
Steps to conquer fear of public speaking
Step 1: Book yourself a speaking gig
I warned you this first step would take a bit of courage, but stay with me on this. The steps to follow will make Step 1 a breeze.
Everyone’s an expert on some topic. If you don’t think you are ask someone who knows you really well.
Find a group you can speak to and book yourself a slot. This is a “throw your hat over the fence” approach, that will have you walk right into your fear and deal with it.
Sounds scary but it’s not if you follow steps 2, 3, and 4…
Step 2: Use this easy formula to plan an engaging talk
We’ve all experienced feeling trapped in a moment of time having to listen to a not-so engaging speaker. You know those instances when you feel rude to leave so you stay and put up with having to listen to someone? That’s what I’m talking about. It sucks listening to someone speak who doesn’t do it eloquently or at least make it interesting.
Don’t be that person.
Here’s how to prepare a presentation that doesn’t suck. When you practice this method you can use it in all your spoken communication – business meetings, telling stories at parties, at PTA meetings, etc.
Here’s what you need to do:
Before you present consider the quality of the message you’d like to convey. Ask yourself:
1. What outcome do I want to achieve by delivering this speech?
2. What key message would I like to convey?
Now, here’s how to go about writing your speech:
Use the formula expert copywriters use to write words that sell. The acronym is: AIDA. (I learned this from John Carlton, if you want to be an expert in words that sell read something by him or take one of his courses. What he teaches will blow your mind).
Attention – Initiate immediate engagement with your audience by speaking about a pain point they have.
Interest – Tell a story, share a nugget of information most people wouldn’t know. This develops intrigue.
Desire – Speak to what they are not doing about the pain point so to arouse their deep human urges to do something about it.
Action – Don’t leave people hanging. You’ve inspired them and they are excited, tell them do something.
Step 3: Practice delivering your talk over and over…and over
Read your talk aloud to yourself.
Read your talk to yourself in front of a mirror.
Read your talk in front of someone you are comfortable with (a spouse or good friend).
conquer fear of public speaking
Read your talk for two or more people. Ask them for feedback. Tweak your talk if you need to.
(Here’s a bonus secret tip. Instruct them to be really interested in your speech and to cheer you on. Even though this may not be authentic. Do it as an exercise. You will be amazed at how easy it is to talk to a group that loves what you have to say and forgives any stumble.)
Practice your until you can do it without your script. When you know it that well you can into the realm of performance.
Then finally, perform it. Have fun with it. Be funny with it.
Deliver it from memory again and again and again.
Put on the clothes you would wear and deliver it again.
If you can practice in the location where you’ll be delivering what you need to say, do that.
Step 4: Turn on your confidence switch before you’re in performance
On the day of the speech, you don’t need to do any rehearsal work. At this point you should know it well. Most of the hard work to conquer fear of public speaking is done!
Instead, focus on what you need to do to mentally and physically feel good. Go for a walk or a run or get some exercise. Eat a healthy breakfast. Iron your shirt and shine your shoes. Get yourself into a state of feeling good.
As your performance nears you’ll likely start to feel some agitation, some anxiety, some nerves. Good! This helps you be in an state of alertness. If you find yourself succumbing to the negative physical cue that comes with pre-performance. Use one of these four methods:
- Visualize the outcome you desire. Close your eyes. Visualize yourself feeling confident, walking out on stage and being awesome.
- Use character modeling. Character modeling is a tool I teach that allows you to step out of yourself and into the shoes of someone you consider to be an expert. You can put on their characteristics like putting on a suit.
- Breathe. If you’re having trouble managing physical symptoms close your eyes and separate yourself from your physical surroundings then breath. If you can do this for a few moments you’ll calm your natural biological tendencies that happen when you’re in a fear state.
- Ground yourself in your burning desires, your commitments. Simply thinking about what you are committed to can have you shift your focus from the present moment to the outcome you are looking to achieve.
After your talk the only thing to do is evaluate your performance. Look for ways you can improve. What’s most important is that you then book yourself another speaking engagement. Each time you speak in front of a group you will reduce your fear. Keep practicing. The added bonus: As you share your words you’ll inspire people to do the same and to take action from whatever it is you talk about. That’s the beauty of communication and expressing yourself.
If you want more extensive tips on conquering fear – including your desire to conquer fear of public speaking – or to manage different types of fear you may face, you’ll want to grab this quick free fear-stomping guide: 12 Ways to Be Confident On-Demand