Posted on: November 23, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 3

Public speaking can be highly challenging, yet it is also a very rewarding opportunity at the same time. The technical term for this fear of public speaking is “glossophobia.” Your ability to perform in front of a group of people is an essential skill for you to develop and hopefully perfect over time. Public speaking is a fundamental aspect of any student’s life, but it is also important for virtually any job down the road. In the workplace, will you be able to convince your boss that you need or deserve a raise? Or convince a group of people in a workplace that you need to do things differently, or get them on board for something you are working on or proposing?

There will always be necessary occasions in your life when your skills as a public speaker are required, and you will also find that there is also room to improve. The following section provides a detailed list of suggestions to follow before, during, and after a public presentation.

1. Identify your audience.

Every audience that you speak to is going to be different. It is essential that you know your audience and tailor your presentation accordingly. Ask yourself these questions: is your audience full of experts on the subject matter you are discussing? Do they have a basic knowledge? Do they know anything about what you are presenting on?

Answer these questions to help you prepare your talk. Keep in mind that your audience will often be filled with people from a range of background and levels of expertise, and try and plan your talk so that it caters to all levels. Knowing your audience can help you get rid of any fear you might have of the talk itself.

2. Visualize the talk.

Visualize the talk you are giving in your head. This helps you get comfortable with the presentation and also helps you with any potential anxiety you are facing in regards to public speaking. Keep in mind that this is what any successful worker does: whether in sales, athletics, or politics, experts in these fields envision how they see themselves achieving success beforehand. Think about your success and what it will take. And then DO IT.

3. Practice a lot.

Practice makes you as perfect as you can be. You want to be effective an effective public speaker, and this takes practice. The best public speakers did not immediately become this way; it took time for them to perfect their craft. You will not be perfect immediately, but you always have to start somewhere.

Try and go through a trial run (if not several) before you give the final presentation. You want to be as comfortable as possible, so try and duplicate the exact situation you will be in during the presentation itself. Can you borrow the room your talk will be held in to practice? This will familiarize you with the setting during the final run of your talk, and help you solve any technical errors: it is better to find out your projector is broken the day before you are presenting, rather than the day of. Keeping these factors under control to the best of your ability will help you stay focused for the task at hand.

4. Be presentable.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but how you present yourself is sometimes as important as what you are saying. Depending on the audience, choose appropriate clothing and dress for success. “The better you look, the better you feel, and the better you do,” as the saying goes. Dress the part to show the audience that you mean business, and they may take you more seriously. Looking good will also make you more confident.

5. Be yourself.

Stop trying to be a great “public” speaker by changing who you are. Embrace your persona! Talk to the audience. Pretend you are having a conversation with the audience as if they are your friends. Focus on people and deliver lines directly at them: this can help you to reduce nerves, and will also keep them engaged with what you are discussing.

Being yourself also puts a face to your facts while humanizing yourself in the process. Use stories and reflections from your own life to tie down and strengthen your points. This often helps people remember your points as well.

What are ideas that everyone can relate to? Telling a personal story also helps you settle in. This is a good way to start: not only for you to establish a rhythm, but also to engage the audience. You need them on board right away, because if you start dry, you may have already lost their attention. Try to be yourself as much as you can. If you are a funny person in real life, use jokes in your presentation! There is no harm in using humour. Bear in mind, though, that a bad joke might make a bad impression. Stick to what you know best!

6. Avoid being a perfectionist.

Perfection is not possible, but you need to realize that this is perfectly acceptable. When you make a small mistake, nobody cares but you. Keep going! Laugh it off, even. This shows you are a human, not a machine. Chances are people wont even notice if you miss a word.

Don’t try and have every word memorized to a tee: in fact, you want to avoid this. Gripping a table and speaking in a monotone will never do. You don’t want to sound too rehearsed. Remember, in many ways this is a different version of a conversation, so you want to make it as natural as possible.

7. Engage your audience.

Leave your audience wanting more. And prepare to answer the questions they may have in a question period afterwards if necessary. The best way to do this is to finish on time or even a few minutes early if you are working within a time period.

Give your audience a chance to participate. The talk may be as much for them as it is for you. Ask your audience to provide examples of the ideas you are discussing. Talk WITH them, not just TO them. Involving your audience in your talk makes them more appreciative of what you are discussing, and also makes it more likely that they are engaged and paying attention to your ideas. One of the problems you might have with public speaking is that you feel people are not interested in what you are talking about. Allow them to be interested!

Nobody likes somebody who presents too long. When have you ever heard of someone getting excited that a talk went longer than it was supposed to? This almost never happens. In fact, chances are you will be praised for running short. You would rather have them asking questions and thinking further than overwhelming your audience with information during your presentation.

8. Evaluate your performance.

Are you happy with the way your presentation went? What do you feel went well? What went wrong? Answer these questions and you will help streamline your presentation process in the future and help get rid of your fear of public speaking.

A great way to do this is to ask the audience. There are only so many things you can observe about your own behaviour. Because this is the case, ask select members from the audience for suggestions on how you can improve in the future.

Ask a trusted friend, colleague, or instructor so that you can receive some genuine feedback. Could everyone in the room hear you? Did the presentation make sense? Was it well delivered? Were you clear with your arguments or ideas? Did you answer questions from the audience effectively? You are not always your own best critic, so it is always useful to ask others about your performance. This will help you avoid any problems with your public speaking in the future.

You may have to give many presentations before you become truly comfortable. That is part of the improvement process. Remember that there is always something you can work on to become a better public speaker. It is no easy task to get rid of a fear of public speaking. But practice makes perfect, as they say! Keep working away at it.

3 People reacted on this

  1. I’m not arguing with your basic idea but it’s important to remember that most people who think/say they have Glossophobia actually don’t. What most people have is a perfectly natural, normal and appropriate fear. Fear and phobia are not the same thing – but we live in such a cossetted society that we tend to be confused about this kind of thing.

    Many of the people we train (we’re a company of public speaking and presentation trainers) say they’re Glossophobic and are very pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re actually *normal*. Calling things a phobia when they aren’t isn’t helpful….

    That said, your tips are generally valid for overcoming that *fear* 🙂

    Good points!

    Cheers…. Simon

  2. Let me first start off by saying Happy New Year.

    And once you have read to the end of this, you will realise that it might indeed be ‘happy’. Just a sentence on my background, big business, investment banker, later turned NLP trainer. I have trained with 4 of the BEST NLP trainers in the world including Dr Bandler and still continue to do so with his apprentice here in London. My corporate fees are roughly £5k / day for this type of work, and I only mention this to gain some credibility from you the reader. Believe me when I say I have helped hundreds of people overcome their fear. And not in years, for many it was circa 6 hours (2 sessions of 3 hrs. ) One of the most amazing things that I learnt from the best NLP MASTER TRAINERS, is that they charge by the change instead of hourly. Therefore it is in my interest that my client not only gets better but better quickly.

    It’s 6am here in London and I have been up all night wiritng another article for a poker magazine. I stumbled on this site by accident and in truth would have kept browsing, except when I saw how many views certain threads were getting. It tugged at the ole heart strings, and for the 13,000 people who viewed the last post – this post is for you ALL.

    Let me start by saying ‘ I hear ya’, ‘I know.’ You are not alone. A phobia, can be very restrictive and very uncomfortable. The genesis of it could truly be anything, but the affects of a phobia, and the stress that ensues from it, can truly be too much. You all know that. Many of you had dedicated thousands of words to the effects a phobia has on you. Shakey hands, sweaty, nervous, etc….

    ‘I hear ya’, ‘I know’. For the reason in the first paragraph I have really not had the time to read every message on every post. So let me first tell, you that you are not alone, and even though that makes no difference to your current predicament – know that you are no freak. Public speaking phobias are considered by many as the no.1 phobia in the world. Yet how does that help you ?? It doesn’t.

    Given the time in the morning and the strict posting guidelines, I will be careful in what I say. But know this! It’s very easy to work with someone and have phobias go away. I am not necessarily that NLP is the only thing to work because even in that field, not every NLPer may posses the skill set to cure it, but it’s a start. My history of ex public speaking phobics, has spoken wonders, and for me it was a huge pleasure to see an ex-client of mine presenting an award on a televised show. Just a week before that, she had had a phobia of public speaking. I have an excellent contact network, and should you wish to contact me looking for someone in your area, I could probably help.

    There are a few things that I would like to advice you of. Despite whatever anyone says, and despite how many certificates they have on their wall, if you are being told that your phobia is not real, reach over for something heavy and smack that mental professional in the face. The body’s reaction to a phobia is very real, and when tested, would test very similar or even higher that extreme stress. If anyone out there tries to force you onto a stage, smack them. If they try and get you to relax, and you don’t feel relaxed, smack them. People will always try and help, it’s just if they don’t know how the brain works, then their advice is going to be futile. Theory and futile advice may make the person sound intelligent, but if it doesn’t get you on the stage, where you feel comfortable and even forget you had a phobia, then smack them.

    Again in my opinion hypnosis on its own does not work with this. I’ve found that it is necessary to change people’s internal images and sounds (NLP) as well as hypnosis, so that not only does the work stick, but newer cortical pathways are built. With regards to how long should it take, and how much will it cost – I couldn’t tell you. I know that for me it has taken anywhere between 30 minutes – 3 x 3hr sessions. I am pretty relentless and once my clients has realised that I am not giving up and am in part more crazy then they are – then they are pretty damn rapid at changing.

    It does not matter to me if a client has had a phobia for 25 years. They come and cry, and tell me all the things, they’ve tried, and bring me files and case notes – and my response is the same : “I don’t give a shit”

    I look my client dead in the eye and ask them
    “any of this stuff you are telling me, has it got rid of your phobia”

    They usually then look at me quite embarrassed and say

    My response is usually the same
    “good. so now you have a list of ALL the ways that DON’T work. Let’s do it my way”

    and before long, some good humour, some good NLP and some great conversational hypnosis, and they are back on track. I believe in freedom, and phobias just restrict people. it restricts people’s thinking, and their actions, and that to me is not a freer life.

    So guys, I hope you believe me when I say ‘ I hear ya,’ ‘I know’. But no sympathy from me. You just have to find the right person to work with to get rid of it. The question of whether it can go or not should no longer be in your mind – it should be replaced with – how fast can I get help to get rid of this.

    So here I am, it’s early, and I may get some sleep after having finished a great article on how to win more money at poker using NLP. Yet for some reason just writing this post seems more fulfilling.

    I do want to leave you with something. Just a small exercise to prove to you that phobias are ‘in fact’ just created. Whatever the phobia is be it public speaking , elevator, etcc… Grab a tennis ball. And as you walk towards the stage, just throw the tennis ball back and forward slowly but continuously from your left hand to your right, and back again. By doing this exercise it engages both sides of your brain……well actually, I won’t tell you why this works so well, and yes obviously it is a temporary solution. But once you’ve tried this exercise and realised that just doing that can suspend your phobia – even if for a moment. Then please wonder what else is possible. What life would be like without this phobia and more importantly the number one question I ask ALL my clients/

    “what will you do with all that spare time”

    Guys, I hear ya, I know – and now you do too. As Dr Bandler says (inventor of NLP) Freedom is everything and Love is all the rest. And on that note, I shall leave you.

    vimal /

  3. Dear Friends,
    I understand the problem of fear of Public Speaking, I had the same fear in my past. Reading the articles, Tips and Books will not help to overcome from the Problem of Public Speaking Fear, Stage Fright and to Overcome nervouness. to resolve this phobia, what require is practicle Training. I will suggest you the Best Short term Course (4 Days) which is available in Mumbai. I have personally Attended & Benefited, Also Many Individuals, Corporates, Professionals, Students Experienced & Benefited from this course.
    Also this Course is Running since last 30 Yrs by Trainer Mr. Pramod Palekar.



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