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Public speaking - beat the fear

15 May 2017

Spiders, death, speaking in public, people are more frightened of the latter than the first two.

Presenting our own thoughts to others in the hope of convincing them about our personal brand - who we are, what we believe, what we want, etc., etc. - creates anxiety in everyone. Why, because the fear of speaking in public is hardwired into all of us to some degree or another.

Beat the fear - public speaking

For those among us who are what some psychologists term “high-trait-anxiety” people, the bad news is there's no way to become a “low-trait-anxiety” person and so focus on what you have to say rather than how bad you feel in front of people. The good news is you can learn to “win with the cards you’re dealt” and reduce your anxiety levels to perform better.

Here are two great tips from the experts - seasoned presenters and psychologists who specialise in coping with anxiety – on how to beat your fear:

A really important tactic, according to experts from NIDA’s corporate media and presentation training arm, is visualisation: “Picture yourself at the presentation, entering the room, standing up and going to your place to present, your notes and slides or whatever at the ready, etc., etc. Then visualise the successful outcome and the calm way you return to your place.”

Practice going through your presentation - more than once or twice. Do it in front of someone you trust, so that you learn what it feels like to succeed.

Visualisation and practice help you focus on what you’re presenting not the things you might be feeling like having a dry mouth, shaking hands, closed down posture, etc.

If, during your presentation physical symptoms of fear do occur - and they probably will – here are some tips for dealing with them then and there. By doing something tangible about them as soon as they happen you will feel in control and able to move forward.

Got a dry mouth: take a sip of water.

Think your voice is quivery: take a deep breath and smile.

Feel tight and shaky in your body: shift your weight and flex your legs, knees.

Shaking hands: hold the lectern or clasp your hands together, gently.

Remind yourself: no one can see you sweat, so forget about it.