Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

Dear Jane,
How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?

Did you know that a survey showed that Americans fear public speaking more than they fear death? Since people who are afraid to speak in public believe they may die from stage fright, it’s a double whammy.

So first, take comfort in knowing you share a fear with most of the human race. This fear is often based on a fear of making a fool of ourselves, of being embarrassed, humiliated, or criticized. Underlying that may be a belief that we are not worthy of respect for voicing our thoughts. So the first step is to respect your own voice, your own thoughts, your own being regardless of others. This is no easy task but it is good practice whether you are ever in front of people or not. You can start by acknowledging your qualities. Make a list of them. Before you go up “on stage,” look at that list to remind yourself of who you really are. This may help you detach from the fearful outcome you dread.

There are other strategies you can try too. For instance, you can imagine your audience naked or in the bathroom. This brings them down a notch or two. You can also visualize success instead of imagining the worst-case scenario. Another trick that many nervous speakers use (I’ll include myself here) is to set up a presentation in an interactive way so you don’t have to speak “in a vacuum.” I am comforted by knowing what people are thinking and feeling during my presentation. So you can pose a question for your audience or tell them in advance that you encourage them to raise their hands to interrupt you.

The last suggestion I’ll give here is that you practice. Like any other skill, the less you resist it and the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. You will also admire yourself more for saying “boo” back to your fear, which I talk about in Enough Is Enough (Chapter 5)!

Finally, remember to hang out in Classroom Earth, not Courtroom Earth (Chapter 2), which means that you no longer act as the judge, jury, and executioner of yourself. Classroom Earth is where you get to learn, practice, and make mistakes in a supportive environment.

Now speak up!

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

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