7 steps to conquer your fear of public speaking

Write down all your fears. Be as specific and take a note of all the things which are troubling you.

By Silvia Vianello

Published: Tue 17 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Sep 2019, 10:51 PM

It is estimated that as much as 75 per cent of the world population struggles with a fear of public speaking. That means that a lot of people feel nervous about talking to others. The fear of public speaking can disrupt careers and lead to sleepless nights whenever one has to deliver a new speech.
Follow these steps to crush your fears and get your point across.
Prepare well: Lack of preparation prompts fear. Spend good time researching on the content and your audience. In order to engage the audience better, add some interesting facts or examples to entertain that specific group. If you fear to recall the content, prepare some extra points which might sometimes help but definitely boost confidence. Be prepared for the questions as well, understanding the topic is utmost essential.
Don't write a script: Usually people write a script and then memorise it, word for word. This leads to anxiety and ultimately, most people go blank on stage. Prepare small pointers and understand them well. Associate examples or facts with the points and formulate an outline. Remember the outline, it will give your speech a proper structure. Carry a small sheet of paper with the pointers written, if required. Never carry your mobile phone or multiple pages.
Write down all your fears. Be as specific and take a note of all the things which are troubling you. It can be, for instance, fear of making a mistake, looking like a fool, being judged or saying something wrong. Think about it and say them out aloud, these fears will soon seem to be harmless and insignificant. If not, visualise yourself in the actual situation giving an outstanding speech.
Record yourself: Take out your camera and practise multiple times. Carefully observe your body gestures, facial expressions, voice modulations, and pauses. Be expressive, it's good to walk around and show that you are confident. Look for the areas you can improve and keep practicing. This will give a better idea of the expected delivery and eliminate all the hesitation. This is a great self-evaluation technique which makes you reflect and improve significantly.
Engage with the audience before the speech. Before you speak on stage, be with the audience and talk to them. This allows you to know the audience better which further eases engagement. Later, it will help to connect better and reduce all the stress. This might also give you some examples or ideas which you can add in your speech to entertain the audience. On the other hand, the audience will also be more interested in listening to you after personally having a conversation with you.
Rehearse, but not too much: As the content is prepared, start rehearsing. For the first try, don't time yourself or think about anything else, just keep speaking and share all the content. Thereafter, breakdown your speech and focus on individual parts, allot time to each part and edit the content if required. Give a few attempts but stop rehearsing when you feel you're starting to memorise the words.
Have fun: Public Speaking is not a task but rather a fun activity which brings in a lot of joy and excitement. While on stage, be fearless, and consider audience as your friends with whom you can casually interact. Enjoy being on stage and have fun is the small little secret you should always keep in mind.
Public speaking is not a trait which people are born with. Anyone can be a master with practice and training over time. The steps above will make you confident and gradually a pro-public speaker with an ability to engage the audience well. Remember to have your speech like a conversation, be creative, and have fun. Good command on public speaking invites various opportunities in any given field and ensures a successful career.
Silvia Vianello is Director of Innovation Lab at S P Jain School of Global Management

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