Nervous jitters can be expected and may be what gives many public speakers their edge that allows them to engage and captive their audience. However, for most people, fear of public speaking can be paralyzing. Our minds run away with thoughts of every possible disaster that could occur while in the spotlight, causing a stumble in performance. For some, these fears are so powerful they would risk it all to avoid public speaking all together. Approximately 20% of respondents in a survey conducted by Prezi said they would “do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means ‘losing respect’ in the workplace”
Reduce Your Fears
While you may never be able to overcome fear of public speaking entirely, it can be greatly reduced by taking these steps to quiet your fears and boost your confidence:
- Know what you are talking about. Know your subject matter inside and out and be prepared to answer any questions from the audience. Perform dry runs in front of friends and family, record yourself, perform in the mirror, do whatever it takes to be fully prepared for any scenario. The more prepared you are, the more secure you will feel presenting.
- Visualize success not failure. Instead of imagining yourself tripping on the walk up to the podium, empower yourself with thoughts of success. This will help remove stress surrounding your presentation and therefore reduce anxiety.
- Adjust your perspective. Don’t overthink your presentation. Having unrealistic fears and putting extreme amounts of stress on yourself to perform perfectly won’t help you be successful. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two, sometimes that is the best way to connect with your audience.
Work With Others
If you suffer from serious public speaking jitters, connect with others who do as well and work through your fears together. Workshops that provide honest feedback and help are also a good way to help you overcome your fears. After all, the more practice and familiarity you have with your topic, the better!
There may be no secret recipe to get rid of your public speaking fears forever, but that’s okay! It’s the little spike of adrenaline that makes life more exciting and keeps us on our toes.