Fear of Public Speaking: Panic, Perception, Passion and Practice

If you can speak you can improve your public speaking. What is your passion?  When you are doing a presentation think about how it will lead you to what makes you happy.  Maybe use a story about your favorite thing to do to describe what you are trying to say. Relate what you are trying to say with something you are passionate about – or perhaps something your audience is passionate about!

Let’s talk about fear!
The fear cycle: How we create it – How we use it – How we lose it?

  • Nobody lives without fear. Trying to rid yourself of all fear is not only taxing and frustrating but ultimately deprives you of an important source of motivation and energy. I have been a professional keynote speaker for over 10 years and I still feel that adrenaline surge each time just before I go on stage, but I use that energy to improve my performance. Fear causes most of our stress. If you have no fear you are playing it too safe or you are out of touch with your feelings..or maybe dead.  Something to think about: Heroes and cowards feel the same fear. The only difference is the action they take.   

You succeed by facing your fear. Don’t be afraid of fear: Look the monster in the eye! If you deny it or run from it, it will track you down and torture you in one of its many disguises.

Let’s take a look at the fear cycle

1. Fear exaggerates everything

  • Imagined consequences:  People will walk out or I’ll put them to sleep.
  • They will not like me: They will think I’m an idiot or amateur.
  • They will feel pressure that I’m trying to sell them something and not like me.
  • Fear run amok destroys confidence.  

2. Fear distorts perception

  • You SEE what you BELIEVE. Your perceptions are based on  your belief system. You look in the front row and everybody looks like the jury that just found you guilty. You see one person look at their watch and you think that NO ONE is interested. Somebody made the mistake of not giving anyone a bathroom break for two hours and you see people getting up to leave right when YOU begin talking.
  • You see imagined obstacles.

3. The physical response

  • Heart pounds, mouth dry, palms sweat.
  • Your larynx tightens, you drop stuff and your voice voice gets high.

4. The fear response: Freeze or frenzy 

  • You stop and procrastinate or you make fast bad actions.
  • You slow down or speed up and your mind starts racing. Most likely you will say say “weird stuff” and will wonder later why that came out of your mouth.

5. Thumps down: Your worst expectations fulfilled

  • In the mist of fear your performance matches your bad expectations.
  • Your performance is below your actual ability.

Then the next time you perform you remember your last time and worry even more! It’s not a lack of skill. Fear took control.

How to use the fear of public speaking to your advantage

  • Use the fear for excitement and energy and channel it into positive action.
  • Fear is a survival tool not a handicap.
  • Remember that fear tells lies and lies cause failure!

Stage presence: Commanding attention

  • Know what your are going to say.
  • Practice makes polish and polish makes money.
  • If you have stage presence they will forgive you must anything else.
  • Do you desire to have attention? Is it important that people pay attention to you when you speak?
  • What do you think you can do to have people notice you more when you speak?
  • What do you think people see when they look at you, what do you think you sound like?
  • Practice talking about your favorite thing.

Practice letting your passion out

  • Don’t be Mr. Meek, Mr. Fake or Mr. Boring. Be yourself – only LARGER
  • Finding your voice: Where does it go? Try talking as loud as you can and then back down to a natural leve.
  • Practice theatre style warm ups like saying over and over as fast as you can: red-leather-yellow-leather or you know you need unique New York
  • Everybody is charming: somebody somewhere thinks your charming (your mother at least).
  • Let’s talk about ourselves: “Enough about me, what do you think of me?”: Remember that no matter how interesting YOU are, the audience is always going to be more interested in themselves!
  • Get feedback from practicing: Ask friends, family, co-workers and especially a coach if you have the opportunity to work with one.

Do you have to be funny?

  • No! you have to be sincere If you really want people to respond when you speak, speak from the heart, speak with passion. When you speak with passion you are a lot more likely to be funny charming and touch an emotional chord. Talk about real stuff.
  • What’s Funny?: Words that have K sounds, short stories, making fun of yourself .
  • Praise people’s ability and honor them, listen and look for the similarities
  • Be yourself! People are attracted to people who are themselves, plain and simple.

Let’s go over the specific techniques: Make it happen

  • Never talk with your back to a window.
  • Never talk when people are eating.
  • Get all the information you can about your audience.
  • Lower your voice to make an important point and look people in the eye.
  • Tell stories that describe your information (True stories are best).
  • Give wisdom from your point of view.
  • Do your best not to say anything anyone has ever said.
  • Repeat important points: Use call backs.
  • Make good use of natural hand gestures: Don’t point at the audience.
  • Remember to channel fear into energy .
  • Enjoy the attention!
  • Each point you make should have three parts: Say what you are going to say, say it and then tell  them what you said. Don’t worry about the audience being impressed with you, let them be impressed by what they can do with your information.
  • Memorize your introduction: It should include: Your topic, why your topic is important to the audience and speaker qualifications.
  • Be real, be yourself, tell the truth.

The structure of your speech

  • The first and last 30 seconds of your speech will have the most impact.
  • Answer the questions that keep CEO’s up at night:  It’s not their job to remember you. What have you done today to make them remember you?
  • An intro is meant to get their attention. Memorize you intro.
  • Back Ground : What are you going to talk about
  • Body: Cover 3 points or one central point that everything relates back to.
  • Using a point-story-point format is very effective.
  • Conclusion: Summarize so that they understand where they have been and what they got from it.

Practice: What the pro’s do

  • Hone your skills in front of a mirror, if you have to memorize information, do it one sentence at a time, get in front of a real audience as much as possible  practice in the car.
  • Fear tells lies but YOU don’t need to. Remember to tell yourself: I am an interesting person and I have good information
  • Practice makes polish and polish makes money.

Communication Skills Training
Communication Speaker

18 Responses to Fear of Public Speaking: Panic, Perception, Passion and Practice

  1. benslade says:

    I agree to all the points.Its really good to see a blog on this topic.No doubt every one has fear in his mind.It’s not as much easy to speak in front of people.But we have to be very confident while speaking in front of others.

  2. jeff says:

    One of the main things I learned about myself, is that I cannot speak to an audience about a subject unless I am passionate about it, I believe in it, and I feel that it is relevant to my audience. Without those three things I am worthless; with those three things I am quite good at it.

    I liked your article. It has a lot of great information.


  3. I have to admit that, as an English teacher, this ticket is extremely “à propos.” I’ll make sure to have a few colleagues read it through because when you’re a teacher you need to project self confidence and calm. If your students sense that you’re not in control, you are going to bring the learning process to a stop.

    Great article! Very good techniques!

  4. I totally agreee to all your points!!
    Thanks for sharing it with us..

  5. Joanie says:

    I enjoyed your post, and I’d add a couple things.

    1. Keep in mind that the audience doesn’t know what you intended to say, so comfort yourself knowing that if you make a mistake, you’re likely the only one who’ll realize it.

    2. No one is as hard on you as you are. Your audience will automatically empathize with you because most of them are just as nervous about speaking in public as you are!

  6. very great in-details articles.. there’s a lot of things to practise now.. 🙂

  7. Sam says:

    Interesting tips!
    I would add this one: Eat like a Bird before giving a speech otherwise your stomach will drain your energy processing the food.

    I recently read another great book from Dale Carnegie: “How to Develop Self-Confidence And Influence People By Public Speaking” that I would recommend to anyone interested in improving his public speaking skills.

  8. shruthisahoo says:

    Now this is a really commendable post on this blog. I really admire your blog.

  9. I used to speak on computer graphic to 200 people audience. The best for me was putting myself in a position like of a guy speaking to his mates. That attitiude reduced my stress significantly.

    Nice post.

  10. Fantastic tips. Im about to do a speach at my wedding and to be honest im a little nervous. Im going to try a few of these techniques.

  11. Camille says:

    Great list of suggestions! I’m terrified of public speaking so this list has given me quite a few things to practice. I definitely would agree with Joanie. When I give presentations I feel like my voice is shaking along with my knees, but no one else ever notices it besides me. You are your own worst critic. Also, I find that being passionate about the subject really helps me to excel. If I’m excited about the topic, the audience too gets excited. Happiness is contagious, so love what you are talking about and it will excite everyone who is listening to you.

    Thank you!

  12. Really great material on public speaking. There are many toast master clubs that work really well for getting practice on public speaking. Its a lot of fun and you get to meet lots of great people.

  13. Public speaking is another of those learned fears, believe it or not. (Only fear of abandonment, fear of falling and fear of loud noises are innate fears, by the way). So, yes, fear of public speaking is a learned fear. We have learned to place a value on what others think of us, so much so that to appear nervous, unsure or even inept in front of others is our ultimate fear. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that this fear of public speaking can be overcome.

    Ben Tien

  14. denis prior says:

    a very interesting post, ihave beenin the position you speak about, you hav given me some great ideas to put into practice keep them comming

  15. I really liked your article here you taught me
    to better behave towards other people, having communication is important,
    life at home, especially in the wider community
    arikel you have motivated me to get stronger, the spirit
    perhaps, one suggestion I:
    “With a smile, would be much more beautiful”
    let’s start all the work with an exciting new spirit,
    and full of struggle ……
    always happy for all of us who read the comments that I give ..
    thanks ..

  16. As a professional magician it was important for me to build up the confidence to be in front of people. Practice makes perfect so in college I focused on speaking and theatre arts to get more comfortable performing in front of strangers.

  17. Overcoming public speaking fears is one of the biggest challenges in life. This may look like an exaggerated statement. But if you consider the fact that fear of public speaking has been found to be one of the major fears haunting the mankind, you will be inclined to agree with me. As you may be aware, statistics show that the number of people who fear public speaking is more than the number who fear death! Fear is a dangerous emotion. Fear can kill people. It is said that when a person dies of snake biting, the death is often caused by the psychological impact of the fear of snake biting than the physiological effects of the biting itself. That is why overcoming public speaking fears becomes so important and so challenging.

  18. Its really incredible to me. Now a days it can make easy to promote the business as easy as possible. Yes now-a-days facebook is most popular social network site and it promote multidimensional activities. I like this post. I think it would be effective for all community.

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