How do I Overcome My Fear of Public Speaking?

How do I Overcome My Fear of Public Speaking?

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

How can I conquer my fears of public speaking, either in front of a group or at company and industry events? – Corina in Terre Haute, Indiana

Answer:

Start small. Do not expect to wake up tomorrow and be transformed. You will achieve your goals of public speaking with confidence when you establish incremental objectives.

I would like to share a story to illustrate this. As I progressed in my career, each new stage required presentations in front of larger groups with more and more executives. It was scary moving from a small peer group with our manager into this higher level. My voice and hands would shake a bit, and I would talk incredibly fast. I recognized this was in important skill to master.

So my first practical step was to identify what made me uncomfortable and then plan a strategy on how to overcome the challenge. What made me uncomfortable was the lack of experience.

I joined a community volunteer organization and took the lead of a major endeavor. Along with running and managing the committee, I made presentations to the board with our findings and recommendations. I had more confidence in this setting, probably because I did not perceive it as threatening.

Fear of Public Speaking

My second practical step in the process was experience and repetition. With every presentation I was more assured and in charge. Soon I was presenting to the city council and a small audience.

Shortly after, I had an important presentation at work with a large group of senior executives. While I still had a few butterflies, my incremental learning process paid off big time. The meeting was a huge success.

My advice is to take the first step. Step out of your comfort zone while mitigating your risk. With each step you learn and grow. In no time you will have acquired a new skill.

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