Fear of public speaking is one of the Top Ten Fears that people have. In some lists it is number 2 after the fear of flying and often more people will state they fear public speaking over the fear of death. Now that is saying something about public speaking! The technical term is Glossophobia.

So what is it that makes people fear public speaking so much? In many cases it is the fear of the unknown – it is something they don’t do very often so they don’t know what to expect. It is often a fear of making a fool of oneself – they lack confidence and feel that people won’t want to listen to them. There is the fear that they will forget what they are going to say – that they will be there in the spotlight mouth open and nothing coming out.

The symptoms of this fear range from sweaty hands, heart racing, shaking legs, red face, nausea and even in extreme cases tongue tied – physically not able to get a word out.

A little bit of nervous tension is good for the public speaker. That nervous tension can be turned into adrenalin which gets the heart pumping and helps to add that charisma, that oomph, the extra sparkle to a speech. Good speakers have learned how to control their fears and nerves.

What can be done to turn your fear of public speaking into energy to add sparkle to your next speech?

Firstly work on your attitude – bring a positive attitude to your speaking. Instead of believing that the people are going to laugh at you and that you will make a fool of yourself. Think to your self – I am excited, I can do this, I am confident. Mentally have a stop sign that you see every time you start to get nervous. See your stop sign and say to yourself – I am not nervous I am excited – I will be great and I am confident. This will short circuit that downward spiral that is caused by the fear.

Next – give your self every opportunity to speak. Take away that fear of the unknown. The more you speak the more experience you gain the more you know what to expect and the more confident you then become. Start small, step forward when asked to introduce someone at a meeting, step forward when asked to give a vote of thanks. Every time you get up to speak you break down that barrier of the unknown.

Practise, practise, practise and prepare, prepare, prepare. These are two words you hear over and over again when you attend a Trischel workshop. The more you practise and prepare the less opportunity for Murphy’s Law to kick in. When you know your subject you are more confident in yourself. Don’t worry about notes.. if you need them use them. Just learn to use them unobtrusively so that they assist you instead of becoming a barrier between you and the audience.

Finally, find a training organisation near you, attend a workshop read some books on public speaking. Always take the opportunity to put into practise what you learn because you can’t learn public speaking without actually doing it!

These are all practical ideas that work – how do I know this because I have been there and done it. I too had a fear of public speaking – whilst it wasn’t my top fear it was at least one that I could do something about. So if I can get to a point where I now love speaking – then you too can do it. All you have to do is take that first step.

There are many more tips and tricks you can apply. Come along to one of Trischel’s Public Speaking Workshops to discover more tips. Look out for our book ”Learning can be Fun” and check out our DVD “Fear Today Gone Tomorrow”. See a sample on You Tube. These will give you the basics and a start to becoming a public speaker – an organisation like Toastmasters International will give you the opportunity to hone and practise your skills.

Oh – what is my top fear – it is the fear of heights – which I might add is not as easy as the fear of public speaking is to overcome. I am still working on this one and not quite as successfully as the public speaking fear!!

Trish @ Trischel

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