Let me start of by saying that I was extremely afraid of public speaking several years ago. Partially, this was due to me not being fluent in English language at that time and not being able to explain myself clearly in front of an audience, regardless of its size.
Then in college I enrolled into a public speaking class, which definitely put me outside of my comfort zone. I did not have a choice of being afraid or present in front of the class, since I had to receive a good grade in order to earn necessary credits for the class. Therefore, I had to learn to put my fear of public speaking behind me and to move forward.
How did I manage to overcome my fear of public speaking, and transitioned from being afraid to enjoying presenting and speaking in front of audiences of any size?
Step 1: Practice and more practice!
I am sure that you’ve heard a saying that ‘practice make it perfect.’ Same with public speaking, the more you practice the easier it gets.
Before you present in front of an audience, practice your speech in front of a mirror several times. Yes, I know that it will be awkward, but do it. You will notice how many time you will stumble, forget words, even when no one is watching or listening to you.
It’s all about practicing your craft until you are no longer making mistakes, do not stumble, and sound very confident.
Step 2: Begin increasing the size of the audience gradually!
Start off with a mirror, then ask your close friend or family member to be your audience. People that you know and trust will be honest with you and share any improvements or adjustments that you need to make in your presentation. Ask them upfront to share any and all feedback that they may have after the presentation.
After the feedback is received, incorporate appropriate adjustments before proceeding in increasing the size of your audience.
Once you are ready and had practiced your speech several times with people that you know and trust, then begin expanding the size of your audience to larger groups, if at all possible. Sometimes all you may have is your immediate audience such as your friends and family members, and that’s perfectly ok. Practice until you feel very confident in your delivery. However, if you have ability to expand the size of your audience, then do so. The more feedback you can receive, the more you can practice your speech in front of larger audience, the easier it would be for you when presenting in non-practice environment.
Step 3: Become an expert in the information that you are presenting on!
You should be so knowledgeable in the information that you are presenting on that you can answer any question from an audience, and provide very informative and accurate response with strong confidence.
One way to become a subject matter expert is by conducting very thorough and detailed research, utilizing any and all sources of information available to you. Make sure to study and understand information derived as part of your research. It is not enough to simply read about a particular subject, you have to fully understand what you are reading about so you can teach others.
IF you have conducted very strong research, read and understand all of the information gathered during your research and preparation, then you should be able to present this information with confidence and answer any question that may come your way from an audience.
By following ALL three steps discussed here in its entirety, you should have nothing to fear with regards to public speaking.
You’ve conducted very detailed and thorough research on the subject that you will be presenting on
You are a subject matter on the topic that you are presenting on to the point where you can answer any question that will come your way and be able to teach others
You had practiced and perfected your presentation in front of an audience, starting with just yourself in front of a mirror to family, friends, and people that you know
These are necessary ingredients to help you overcome a fear of public speaking.
Remember, the more you practice, the easier it should become. It will be uncomfortable at first, but each subsequent presentation should and will get easier, until the point when you are looking forward to present in front of others and actually truly enjoying the challenge. If you are interested in discussing some of the obstacles that you may be facing in relation to overcoming fear of public speaking, send me a note to: AskAlex@heartandmindofaleader.com
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