How to get over your fear of public speaking?

April 12th, 2007|| · No Comments ·

The biggest asset most of us will have during our lives is our career. It is worth millions of dollars over our entire lifetime.

We will be posting regular tips and tricks here at Investments & Loans for you to stay in front of the curve at work. Starting today with our public speaking cheat notes.

Fear of public speaking

Public speaking is the number one thing people are afraid of in the world, even ahead of death! But, if you can gain some mastery over your fears and some proficiency in your delivery, you will set yourself apart from your colleges. Look at the managers in your organization, look at the CEO, they are all people that communicate well. And they are also people that will notice if a person can handle themselves in front of a group with confidence and calm.


First off we have a look at what our friends at have to offer on the subject:

1. Practise your speech in front of a mirror. This is a good way to pick up ums and ahs and to see if you do distracting things like sway or shuffle from side to side.

2. Practise your speech to a wall. This tip is the exact polar opposite of the first one. It should help you to block out distractions when you come to give your speech. Also, notice that each of these tips is starting with the word “practise”.

3. Practise with a friend.
You should be relaxed enough with your friend to be able to get some honest feedback. Make sure it is constructive though.

4. Practise with a peer (non-friend). This is useful because it starts to add some pressure. Make sure like before, you probe this person for feedback on your delivery.

5. Record yourself. Similar to the mirror, except you can analyse at a higher level of detail.

6. Do a dry run. And make it realistic. If possible go to the venue, and go through the whole speech. Make it as realistic as possible, wear similar clothes etc.

7. Do not only practise on your family. Make sure you set yourself some difficult practise goals. If you want to excel you need to challenge yourself.

Investments & Loans tip here is that you need to start to change the way you think about scary and challenging situations. You can either follow the adversarial approach to self development which says I will attack my fears and I will destroy them, for that will make me more powerful.. or you can equally effective follow the logical and methodical route which is to recognise the benefits of the desired skill set, research the required steps to achieve said skills, and then systematically go about following those rules.

University of California

And from Berkley we find this list which is far too long to the same level of detail as the previous list, so I will present the categories of discussion with a brief commentary:

1. Audience analysis. Remember the audience is the beneficiaries of the speech, don’t make too many assumptions, know things like demographics, knowledge, skill level. What do I want my audience to know? How do I want me audience to feel?

2. Openings and Closings. Stay away from predictable openings and closings. Begin with a question, anecdote or current affair. Plan a rythmn to your speech and plan time for questions.

3. Preparation. Decide what is essential, what is important and what would be nice. Set objectives. Plan your speech to cover less than the allotted time. Divide the speech into roughly equal segments. Speak from notes rather than a complete text.

4. Delivery. Be conversational, speak naturally. Vary your pace and voice. Use body language. Look at the audience. Use metaphors. Observe the techniques of others.

5. Credibility and Commitment.
Credibility is enhanced by your own comfort. Your enthusiasm. Your research and ideas. Commitment is enhanced by relating from your own experiences, taking a 1st person approach, relating your “passion” for the subject.

6. Building Interaction. Have questions prepared. Start with easy questions, that are relatively accessible. Get the audience to discuss with the person sitting next to them to break the ice. Move around a bit.

7. Handling Questions. Be direct. Encourage questions. Be aware of how your behaviour and tone set the mood and atmosphere for questions. Answer directly. Make sure everyone can hear you. Clarify questions.

8. Always get feedback.
Always get the class to give feedback at the end. Use eye contact to notice if people have questions, and ask them if they need clarification, if they say no, clarify anyway.

That is a good resource right there. Very detailed. Perhaps a little geared toward our academic friends, but some good tips in there.

Some more resources

Finally we have tracked down two great articles from

Tips for public speaking and
Public speaking dos and donts

If you have any other tips you have found useful in your public speaking please feel free to comment, or to disagree. Every healthy team needs a good dissident!

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