Steve Kaye, Ph.D.

Article Summary:

How to overcome the fear of public speaking.

Overcome The Fear Of Public Speaking

Here are three strategies for overcoming the fear of public speaking.

1) Expect success.
Some people scare themselves with outrageous fantasies of failure involving (but not limited to) loss of all verbal skills, spectacular insanity, and banishment to living in a carton from a generic appliance.

If this happens to you, stop the movie and leave the theater. That is, tell yourself to think about something else. Pick up the fantasy and carry it out to the trash (imagine yourself doing this). Or, replace the fantasy with a positive one in which you are giving a wonderful presentation.

The truth is that your audience wants you to do well. They are sending you positive energy during your presentation. Catch that energy and use it to feel confident.

2) Focus on them.
We become anxious when we focus on ourselves and the impression that we are making. Instead, focus on helping the audience.

Make service your highest priority. Strive to be clear, logical, and helpful. Speak to them as individuals, even though they are watching as a group.

Also, enlist them as partners in your presentation. Watch their expressions to guild what you say and emphasize. And if a surprise happens, ask for their help.

For example, if something breaks, ask them to help fix it ("The bulb burned out in the projector. Shall we take a break while I fix it?")

For example, if someone asks an impossible question, ask them to answer it. ("That’s a good question. Does anyone here have an answer for it?")

3) Prepare.
A lack of preparation would scare even a seasoned professional speaker. And so, you will always feel more confident when you know what to do and say.

Thus, spend an appropriate amount of time planning your presentation. Research the audience’s expectations and prior knowledge by interviewing key members of the audience. Make sure that you understand the goal for your presentation.

And keep it simple. Complexity requires extra effort on your part and often confuses the audience.

Once you plan your presentation, practice it. You can do this while you drive, while you workout, and while you work on chores. Practice key parts of your presentation by talking about them in conversations with friends, coworkers, and family. Then, before you deliver the presentation, rehearse with a clock to make sure you will finish within the allotted time.

If you want extra help, hire a coach or ask a friend to work with you on your presentation. Or, you may ask your company to purchase a workshop on business presentation skills.

Steve Kaye, author and IAF Certified Professional Facilitator, helps leaders hold effective meetings. His facilitation produces results that people will support, and his innovative workshops have informed people nationwide. Call 714-528-1300 or visit his web site for over 130 pages of valuable ideas. Sign up for a free newsletter at

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