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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

communication skills presentation skills
“According to most studies, people's number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” - Jerry Seinfeld


Perhaps that's a bit overstated, but public speaking is such a common fear that this joke has lived on for 30 years. But what if you have a fear of public speaking yet are required to speak in front of groups as a part of your job? What do you do?

There's a reason I always close my keynote speeches on communication skills with a section on how to overcome the fear of public speaking. It's so common that these tips can be helpful for everyone. 

1. Practice Doesn't Make Makes Perfect

One of the best ways to overcome the fear of public speaking is to  practice your speech or presentation. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable with your material. ]But make sure you're practicing with the obective to improve. Otherwise, all you'll be doing islocking in bad habits. Practice doesn't make perfect. It makes permanent. So do practice, but don't just go through the motions.Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself so you can see how you look and sound. Then do make adjustments and it again. Rinse, repeat, improve.  

2. Focus on Your Audience

Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on your audience. Think about what they want to hear and how you can deliver your message effectively. This will help shift your focus away from your fears and onto your audience. Remember, everyone in the audience wants to hear what you have to say so there's no need to impress them with jargon or technical lingo. Just have a conversation. That will set you at ease and make the audience more confortable too.

3. Visualize Success...or Failure

Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on your audience. Think about what they want to hear and how you can deliver your message effectively. This will help shift your focus away from your fears and onto your audience. Visualize yourself delivering a successful speech or presentation. Imagine yourself feeling confident, relaxed, and in control. This will help boost your confidence and reduce anxiety.

And if visualizing success doesn't work for you, try visualizing yourself failing! Imagine yourself tripping onstage or spilling your glass of water. By imagining the worst-case scenario, you'll realize the worst case scenario isn't really all that bad.

4. Breathe Deeply

When you feel nervous, take deep breaths to calm yourself down. Inhale deeply through your nose for four seconds, hold for four seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for six seconds. There's a reason I teach breathing techniques in my keynotes and workshops. It's a fast, effective way to regain your compsure and focus on the present moment. Breathing exercises are the best way to occupy your mind the moment before you begin your presentation too.

5. Get Training

If public speaking is a part of your job description then there's really no getting away from it. The sooner you are able to overcome this fear the faster your career will benefit. So consider getting some training in this area. Your workplace may even pay for it as a part of your professional soft skills development. 

Overcoming the fear of public speaking takes time and practice but it is absolutely possible with the right mindset and techniques. By preparing in advance, focusing on your audience, visualizing success, breathing deeply, and seeking professional training; anyone can become a confident public speaker.

Joshua Seth is a celebrity voice actor, turned communication skills keynote speaker.

His mission is to help leaders unlock the power of their voice so they can speak with influence, communicate with confidence, and sound like a better version of themselves.

Joshua's known to millions as the voice of over 100 animated TV shows and movies, and can be heard in everything from Akira to Spongebob Squarepants. But he’s best known as the star of Digimon, voicing the main character Tai for the past 20 years in both the hit TV series and all 8 movies, helping it become the 75th highest grossing media franchise in the world.

He’s the author of the upcoming book "Communicate With Impact" (2023, New You Publishing). Joshua has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches and presentations over the past 10 years for many of the world's top companies and professional organizations.

For information on Joshua’s keynote speeches and workshops visit www.joshuaseth.com

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