Got a fear of public speaking? Don’t worry you are certainly not alone. In fact, of all the phobias out there, public speaking, at 19% of people, is one of the most common fears there are. It affects 3 out of 4 or 75% people suffering from speech anxiety. The most difficult part about public speaking is that for many of us it’s inescapable. We use it every day in work, school and daily life.

Unfortunately, there is not one tip or trick that will instantly get rid of your anxiety, cool your clammy hands or boost your confidence, but here are some things you can try and see what works for you.

Practice!

This is so important. Practice helps retain the information and keep it fresh in your mind. Nervousness is normal when you are about to speak but if you know your message inside and out it will help ease some of that anxiety.

Know who you’re speaking to

Who are you speaking to? Naturally, your presentation and communication styles should be different if you are doing a business presentation to your boss versus teaching a lesson to fourth grade students. Your speech should be adapted to fit your audience’s abilities, learning styles, and motivations.

Use your personality

Nobody likes a presentation where the speaker just reads from a paper without ever moving or making eye contact. You have a personality so let it shine through in your presentations. If that doesn’t come naturally, when you practice make an effort to vary the pitch of your voice, make notes of where you should pause, or try recording yourself and playing it back to see how you look or sound.

Don’t read from a paper

It’s comforting to have something up there with us just in case we forget what we want to say. But don’t let it become a crutch. Outline your general points on your paper (if needed) and expand freely when you are presenting. Practicing this beforehand will let you become more comfortable with your topic and keep you from rambling for too long.

Tell stories

Get people engaged with your data or numbers by giving them a story behind it. People can relate to emotions in stories, making your content all the more engaging for them.

Body Language

This is an important one because even if you sound confident, if your ripping the edges of your paper, fidgeting on stage, or if you look disinterested it will have an impact on your message. Use hand gestures – where needed –, stand upright and of course our last tip…

Smile

Seems like an easy one to do but smiling in front of a room full of strangers can feel, well, strange sometimes. Fight that strange feeling and it will help put your audience, and surprisingly yourself, at ease.

What are some of the other most common phobias out there?

  1. Public Speaking or Stage Freight – 19%
  2. Death and End of Life – 16%
  3. Spiders and other Arachnids Creatures – 13%
  4. Darkness and Twilight – 12%
  5. Heights, Altitudes, and Elevations – 11%
  6. People and Social Situations – 10%
  7. Flying in Airplanes – 7%
  8. Open Spaces and Squares – 5%
  9. Natural Thunder and Lightning – 4%
  10. Confined Spaces and Small Rooms – 3%

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