The fear of public speaking can be overwhelming and debilitating. When it comes to your career, it may keep you from reaching your full potential. Your nerves get the better of you, and the thought of forgetting the words and looking foolish in front of an audience takes over your mind. Whether you have to give a five-minute speech or a 30-minute presentation, realize that this is a learned skill. Conquer your fear, anxiety and panic attacks by coaching and training yourself to speak in public.
Prepare your speech well, but don't over-prepare. Outline your speech and memorize key points you want to address. Practice your speech in front of a few friends or the mirror, to build up your confidence. Avoid over-preparing -- memorizing your entire speech word-for-word -- because this sets you up to fail, especially if you forget your "lines," and adds to the pressure you feel. Trust in your ability to speak.
Realize you don't have to give a perfect speech. The pressure to do so only adds to your stress and anxiety. Give your audience some valuable information to walk away with, and your speech will be a success.
Make index cards listing your key points, so you have something to fall back on if you lose track during your speech. Knowing that you have your index cards with you reduces stress and increases your confidence.
Take deep breaths before giving your speech, because breathing has a calming, tranquilizing effect. Blow out all the air from your lungs through your mouth, then breathe in through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts, then release the air through your mouth for eight counts.
Think of your audience as equals, so your anxiety and stress don't get the better of you. Avoid setting yourself apart, in your mind, from your audience -- even if you are speaking to employers or executives. Think of them as being on your team.
- Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images