Public speaking is a very popular phobia, or fear, with business people and non-business people alike. Heights, germs, spiders, clowns and other fears also take a slice from the fear pie, but probably not as large a slice as that of standing in front of a group and speaking. Most people panic the instant they realize they need to speak in public, even if that time is scheduled months down the road.
Depending on what you read, more or less, 75 percent of all people experience some degree of nervousness or anxiety when it comes to public speaking. In fact, some surveys declare that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death.
So, what helps one to get over “the butterflies” when you know you’ve got to deliver a talk to the Chamber of Commerce, a college class or a group of people at your company? First of all, know that you’re not alone. When I was a young professional, inexperienced with public speaking, what helped me overcome my anxiety was a simple recipe (these highlighted points). People are empathetic and know that if you’re trying, they’ll typically cut you some slack. Mentally try to take some of that pressure out of the balloon!
Stand and rehearse aloud repeatedly. Practice, practice, practice!
Get honest feedback while you’re practicing. Ask someone you trust to be painfully honest -- and have them watch you rehearse, supplying a critique of what’s good and what needs improvement. Difficult? For sure. Worth it? Yep.
“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” --Lady Bird Johnson