• Miroslava Rangel

Overcoming the fear of public speaking

Throughout anybody’s path to success there are several fears and barriers one must overcome. These fears can create a roadblock that can completely divert you into an unpleasant and unfulfilling path in life. Or they can become challenges that you wish to overcome and grow from. Public speaking is one of these roadblocks for many people. The fear of speaking in front of an audience has been ranked higher than the fear of spiders, darkness, and even death.

According to a publication by Columbia University, the fear of speaking in front of an audience showed to have a negative impact in the success of individuals. If you have a fear of public speaking you then have 10% less chance of graduating college, 15% less chance of getting into a managerial/high ranked position, and get paid 10% less than people who excel in public speaking. The ability to communicate your ideas clearly in front of an audience is an essential component of success across several domains of life.

Here are a few tips that will help decrease your fear of public speaking:

1. Positive imagery is a key component to overcoming public speaking anxiety. Before giving a presentation, people tend to imagine all of the things that could go wrong. Not only does this increase anxiety, but it also increases the chance of something actually going wrong during your presentation. Brain studies now reveal that mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain such as; motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. This means the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. Days before you give a presentation you should visualize your presentation to the smallest detail. What kind of tone are you using? What kind of facial expressions do you have? What are your surroundings? How is your breathing? Once an audience is in front of you, you are much more comfortable because you have been in that exact situation multiple times in your mind. You should visualize yourself as a confident, fearless speaker hundreds of times, and it will show throughout your presentation.

2. Along with positive imagery, positive dialogue contributes to the success of a public speaker. Many fearful presenters use phrases such as “I am an awful presenter,” “no one wants to listen to me,” or “I am going to mess up and people will laugh at me.” This type of language only feeds nerves and creates more discomfort throughout your presentation. You cannot control what other people say about you, but you have complete control over what you tell yourself. Instead, tell yourself: “I am a strong speaker that has valuable information to share,” “I am able to connect with my audience with ease, “my words have a positive effect on people.” Words are very powerful and they have the ability change your mood, thinking, and performance.

3. Practice, practice, practice! If you want to excel in anything in life you must repeatedly do it in order to improve. Public speaking is no different. The more you speak in front of an audience the more you become comfortable you will become. Of course you will be very nervous during your presentations if you only do it once a year. However, someone who has spoken in front of an audience hundreds of times has learned to relax and learn what works well for them throughout their presentation. Repetition is one of the most effective ways to perfect anything in life. Practice speaking in front of a mirror, record yourself or present in front of people you are comfortable with before giving an actual presentation. Do public speaking events as frequent as possible and you will see how much easier it becomes to stand in front of people and share your ideas.

Remember, inspiring people, landing your dream job, persuading investors, creating a business, and teaching people all require an effective transmission of presenting your ideas and thoughts. Do not let your fears, such as public speaking, become a roadblock in your life. Mindset of a Hustler challenges you to take a bold step to put yourself in front of an audience and overcome this roadblock in your path to success.

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” —Babe Ruth