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<p><b>Fear of public speaking. How to overcome?</b></p>
August 29, 2022#career

Fear of public speaking. How to overcome?

The fear of public speaking is the second most popular phobia after the fear of death. It is experienced by more than 90% of all people.

The secret of the popularity of this fear is that it is a manifestation of deeper phobias. For example, a person may be afraid of making a mistake, losing credibility, being ridiculed or not accepted by the community. Internal biases form a negative attitude to the situation. Speaking in front of a large and unfamiliar audience, which will undoubtedly evaluate you, just fits this description.

The fear grows gradually. If we consider it on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is a slight excitement, 5 is a real fear, and 10 is a panic attack, then a person should be able to cope with all levels of tension up to the fifth mark on their own. Therefore, your main task is to prevent the degeneration of fear into panic, which completely paralyzes you.

Determine the nature of your fear

To take emotions under control, you need to find out what provokes them. Try to answer yourself the question: "What am I most afraid of at this performance?". Whether you are afraid of the audience's assessment or the loss of its attention, perhaps you are afraid of not answering difficult questions, showing your incompetence or making a mistake. Once you understand what scares you in the first place, you can develop a plan to bypass a stressful situation.

Change the focus of attention

Often, to combat fear, people resort to physical exercises — breathing, jumping, walking. In fact, the nature of fear is embedded in your consciousness, which means that it can be overcome only with the help of psychological techniques. One of the most effective is a change of focus.

When you think about the upcoming performance, you constantly scroll through the most terrible episodes for you in your head: "I'll forget the words," "I won't open the presentation," "I'll mix everything up." But think about why others like public speaking? Attention, communication, new acquaintances? Think about what motivates you. Try to distract yourself from your fears and concentrate on how great it is to perform, that this is a rare chance to say something to people, and if you were given it, then you deserve it.

Understand why you need this performance

Honestly answer yourself the question: "Why am I performing?". Is this a duty that I just have to fulfill, or am I presenting my work and this is a very important step for me?

If you have to speak out of necessity, then unrest is meaningless. Why do you wind yourself up, worry, if for you it's just a simple formality.

If the performance is your personal decision, and you are pursuing serious goals, then try to change the focus, try to concentrate on the positive emotions and results that await you.

Take more time to prepare

Immerse yourself in the topic with your head: read additional sources, watch videos, talk to professionals to gather a solid knowledge base around your topic.

Practice shows that when a person is interested, passionate and familiar with a topic, he has a natural desire to talk about it to everyone — from colleagues to family members. Try to tune in to the topic of the speech, find amazing facts, come up with an unexpected approach to it so that it will be interesting for you to talk about it yourself.

Record a video of your performance

If you doubt yourself, then take a look at your performance from the side. Write down your speech, and then analyze how you spoke, what gestures you used, what you were distracted by, what you forgot to tell about. The main thing is not to treat yourself too critically — it is always difficult to perform, this experience comes with the years. But the first step to this is to learn to control your emotions and fear.

Practice in the place where the performance will take place

There is not always such an opportunity, but if you have, then, for example, you can go on stage during a break or come in advance and at least get used to the atmosphere of the hall, then you will already do yourself a great favor. So you will cope with one of the main causes of fear — the unknown.

Don't be a perfectionist

Striving for high—quality work is an undoubted plus and a sign of skill, but it's stupid to torment yourself with the pursuit of an ideal. Public speaking is a living process. Your speech is influenced by preparation, technique, organization of the event and, of course, the audience. It is impossible to foresee and plan everything, but that is the beauty of the report — it is always something new and amazing. Do not set yourself a goal: to do it perfectly, better focus on quality work and maximum return.

We also recommend books that will help you stop being afraid of public speaking:

1. "Public speaking. 5 ways to overcome fear" Alexey Markov

If you experience excitement and even confusion during conferences, meetings, negotiations or on dates, then be sure to read this book. The author has developed a unique training on the technique of public speaking, which he conducts not only in Russia, but also abroad. The work contains simple steps to overcome embarrassment and methods to defend their own interests.

2. "A TED talk. I speak. I'm listening. I hear" Julian Treasure

Surely you have been to the speeches of speakers who seemed to talk beautifully and a lot, but it was not interesting to listen to them. Perhaps the problem was not in the information itself, but in its presentation. From the book you will learn 7 "deadly sins of communication" that make your story boring and monotonous. The author is convinced that it is important to study not only the text of the presentation, but also intonation, facial expressions, movements.

3. "More than a speech. How to control facial expressions, gestures and intonation" by Evgeny Shestakov

When the speaker tells interesting information, but with a sad expression on his face, without phrasal accents and in a closed pose, the audience will begin to fall asleep after half an hour. The author of the book claims that with the help of non-verbal means, it is possible to control the attention of the audience more effectively than with the voice. 

Summing up all the theses, remember that speaking can and should be a pleasant activity for you. No one expects oratory or magic tricks from you. Your goal is to convey your thoughts and at the same time enjoy the fact that you share an interesting topic for you and communicate with a viewer who is not indifferent to your words.