3 Strategies to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking

· December 8, 2017

Are you tired of being held back by your fear of public speaking? If this is you, you probably have already heard a lot of advice and know all the usual tricks to get over it. Some work better than others, but it seems like none of the strategies truly take care of the problem, right? In this article, we’ll explain three new strategies to get over your fear of public speaking once and for all.

For these techniques to work, it’s essential that you know exactly what you are going to say. You should almost have it memorized. You need to know your speech extremely well. If you are afraid of speaking in public, then it’s something you’ve got to do.

1. Confront your fear with the “worst nightmare” technique

The worst nightmare technique is a very useful strategy to get over a fear of public speaking. It is a “controlled worry” exercise that’s a part of the Brief Strategic Therapy method. It involves doing the following exercise every day, starting a week before you have to speak in public:

“Every day at the same time, shut yourself in your room or in a place with low lighting where you won’t be bothered. Lock the door so you can be sure that you won’t be interrupted. Set a 30-minute timer on your cell phone. Sit comfortably, and for thirty minutes you will focus on feeling your fear of public speaking.

Instead of avoiding your fear, you are going to think about everything that worries you the most about public speaking. Let all that fear flow. After the thirty minutes are up and the alarm goes off, interrupt your thoughts and feelings by saying “STOP!” Get up, leave the room, go to the bathroom, wash your face, and go on with your day and your routine.”

Courage is knowing what not to fear.

-Plato-


a woman getting over her fear of public speaking

2. Share your fear, reveal your “weakness”

This strategy should be applied the moment you start your speech or presentation. If you are afraid of public speaking, the most effective thing you can do is share and confess your fear. Explain to your audience that you are very excited, you are glad that they are there, and that you can count on their presence.

Then, directly address the following: tell them to forgive you if you lose your train of thought or get a little nervous. If that happens, it’s because you are happy to be giving your presentation and to have them as audience members.

By addressing your fear or weakness, you are freeing yourself from the pressure of trying to hide it. This strategy frees you from concentrating on making sure no one realizes you are afraid and that your fear goes unnoticed.

When you are open about a weakness, it becomes a strength. Plus, you connect with your audience and appeal to their empathy. Remember that a large percent of the population suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder and/or a fear of public speaking. 

Your audience will understand where you are coming from and then tension will dissipate from the environment. All of this will help you significantly to overcome your fear of public speaking.

“As soon as we admit our fragility, it ceases to be, and becomes a strength.”

-G. Nardone-

3. Control your breathing and start speaking very slowly

Controlling your breathing is one of the most useful tools to overcome the fear of public speaking. You have to concentrate on breathing deeply and practice diaphragmatic breathing (from your stomach instead of from your chest). When you focus all your senses on your breathing, you stop being so aware of your nervousness and fear.

a man holding a microphone

When you start your speech, make an effort to speak slowly. That way you will improve the neurological feedback that speech produces, and manage your fear more effectively. If you speak slowly, you block the symptoms of fear and distance yourself from them. That is because you are refocusing your attention on something neutral, like the rhythm of your voice. 

These three strategies are some of the most useful for overcoming the fear of public speaking. They work in cases of “fear,” but not “phobia” (excessively intense and paralyzing fear). If you have a phobia of public speaking, these strategies will help you muddle through, though. If you have a fear of public speaking, practice these strategies and watch yourself get over your fear. You can do it!