You may have been a victim of stage fright several times. Your knees tremble, your throat dries out, you sweat buckets and all you want to do is escape. The `stage fright’ monster has caught you again. Sipping water, making eye contact or behaving like a celebrity hasn’t helped. It is not about taking a deep breath when you can barely breathe. Here’s what you can do to overcome your fear of public speaking.
Identify your fear: Ask yourself what is the cause of the fear? Is it actually speaking in public that makes you nervous? Does the look on the face of your colleagues or public lead to jitters the next time around? Could it be your skill level with the tools like PowerPoint that mess up your preparation? Sometimes the cause of fear isn’t just people.
Accept your fear: There is no use escaping the fact. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s going to be all OK on the stage. You fear cannot be wished away. You might do yourself a great service by accepting that you are fearful of speaking in public. Facing your fear could help you prepare better.
Manage your fear: You can’t overcome your fear of public speaking with some quick tips. But you can manage it. Preparation is the best drug to deal with your fear. Stop judging yourself on a success-failure scale every time you speak to a crowd. If the fear of forgetting your lines worries you, practice.
Highlight your strengths: You have a phobia of speaking in public. That does not take away from the rest of your qualities. Focus on your abilities as you know them best. If you are good at using technology, embrace it wholeheartedly. Use PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, Skype as alternatives. Highlight your strengths and subdue your weakness. If you don’t show, no one will know.
Give yourself time: It took you time to accept that you are fearful of speaking in public. You are trying to manage it. Go easy on yourself, give it time. Practice makes perfect. Every time you speak in public, you are learning to deal with your fear better. There is no better teacher than ‘experience’.
Utilize your resources: You might have a book that you bought to gain some tips on public speaking. Read a few books, especially ones by eminent personalities on the subject. Browse articles you come across on the internet. Use tips that colleagues or peers share. You could gain from the resources around you.
Take a pause: People believe that a successful speaker is the one who does not pause during a speech or a presentation. A long pause might confuse the audience. But a few pauses allow you to recollect the points. You can use a pause to your advantage during a speech and these might make you sound experienced and in control.
Lastly, do what makes you more comfortable. If it is listening to music that helps you relax before a speech or presentation, go for it. There is no magic potion that might help you overcome your fear of stage. One trick might not work for all. Devise your own strategy and don’t give up. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet have been in the same boat and they made a success out of it. You could do it too!
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