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My Fear of Public Speaking

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Published: Mar 16, 2024

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Understanding the fear of public speaking, the impact of public speaking fear, strategies for managing and overcoming public speaking fear.

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To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Stop Thinking About Yourself

  • Sarah Gershman

afraid of public speaking essay

Tips for before and during your presentation.

Even the most confident speakers find ways to distance themselves from their audience. It’s how our brains are programmed, so how can we overcome it? Human generosity. The key to calming the amygdala and disarming our panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience. Showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm the fight-or-flight response. When we are kind to others, we tend to feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and we feel less nervous.

Most of us — even those at the top — struggle with public-speaking anxiety. When I ask my clients what makes them nervous, invariably they respond with the same answers:

afraid of public speaking essay

  • Sarah Gershman is an executive speech coach and CEO of Green Room Speakers. She is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where she teaches public speaking to leaders from around the globe.

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Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking)

Causes and How to Overcome Your Fear

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is the most common phobia among people. The good news is that there are ways to cope and learn to overcome your fear, such as using strategies to calm your nerves, practicing the presentation frequently, and engaging your audience with questions.

Public speaking causes feelings of anxiety in 15% to 30% of the general population, and it can sometimes hinder a person's day-to-day life. This is especially true regarding school- or work-related situations involving speaking in front of others.

This article discusses the symptoms, causes, treatment, and healthy ways to cope with glossophobia.

Mikolette / Getty Images

What Is Glossophobia?

"Glossophobia" is the official term used to define a fear of public speaking. It may sometimes also be referred to as public speaking anxiety.

Phobias are categorized into one of three categories:

  • Specific phobia : A fear related to a specific object, like spiders or confined spaces, or a situation, such as flying
  • Social phobia : A fear that involves a significant and persistent feeling of social anxiety or performance-based anxiety
  • Agoraphobia : A fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn't be available if things go wrong. This term is most often used to describe a fear of crowded spaces.

Glossophobia is a social phobia that causes more intense feelings than are normal to experience when it comes to public speaking. Instead of just butterflies in their stomach, those with glossophobia can feel extreme distress in situations that involve speaking in public, interacting with new people, or talking in a group.

Symptoms of Glossophobia

People with glossophobia may experience a variety of symptoms depending on the severity of their condition. They may only experience a fear surrounding performance and public speaking, but they may also have other social anxieties.

Symptoms of glossophobia typically include:

  • A significant fear or dread of public speaking
  • Avoidance of situations that require speaking publicly, either formally in front of an audience or informally via small talk

Those with glossophobia may have other symptoms of social phobia, as well. These may occur before, during, or after a social situation.

Symptoms may include:

  • Avoidance of group conversations
  • Avoidance of parties
  • Avoidance of eating with others
  • Worrying about activities like speaking on the phone or in work meetings
  • Worrying about doing something embarrassing
  • Worrying about blushing or sweating
  • Difficulty doing tasks with others watching
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Worrying about being criticized or judged

Those with social phobia are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than the general public.

As with many phobias, glossophobia may also cause a variety of physical symptoms. Panic attacks are also possible and may lead to increased heart rate, chest pain or tightness, and trembling. Other symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Feelings of choking
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Feeling light-headed or faint
  • Feelings of pins and needles
  • An urgency to go the bathroom
  • Ringing sound in the ears
  • Upset stomach
  • Feeling disorientated

Causes of Glossophobia

A fear of public speaking often begins in adolescence. Social phobias like glossophobia can be caused by a range of factors.

Biological Factors

Glossophobia may be due in part to genetics. Genetics can determine how the brain regulates feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and shyness.

Some people may be born naturally shy, and find social situations difficult to navigate. Most people who have a social phobia have had a shy temperament their whole life.

Learned Behavior

A fear of public speaking can develop after learning the fear from a role model. A child with shy parents who avoid social interactions or speaking in public may be influenced to have the same fear.

A child who witnesses such avoidance may grow up to think speaking in public or socializing with others is upsetting and to be avoided.

Likewise, if a parent overprotects a child who is shy, the child won't have opportunities to become used to situations that involve new people or speaking in public. This can result in a social phobia like glossophobia later in life.

Past Experiences

A life event or past experience that is stressful or upsetting can cause people to associate negative emotions with situations that involve public speaking or interacting with others.

If someone has been criticized or feels humiliated, they may develop a social phobia. If a person is pressured into interacting in a way they are not comfortable with, they may also develop a social phobia.

Those who are bullied are more likely to hide away from others and be afraid of opening themselves up to more criticism by speaking in public.

Since the fear of public speaking is a social phobia, it is typically diagnosed as a nongeneralized type of social anxiety disorder. One study indicated that the fear of public speaking is a common feature of social anxiety disorder, but it may also be present without other signs of social anxiety.

For a person to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, a mental health professional will perform a psychological evaluation using criteria in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" ( DSM-5) .

You may also undergo a physical exam or lab tests to look for any irregularities in physical health, which will often check a person's hormone, vitamin, and blood levels.

Overcoming a Fear of Public Speaking

Dealing with a fear of public speaking isn't easy. Many people feel nervous if they have to deliver a speech in front of an audience, but there are ways to cope.

The American Psychological Association suggests the following tips to cope with nerves when speaking in public:

  • Begin your speech or presentation with a discussion question : This gets the audience involved and talking and takes the pressure off you for a while.
  • Recognize where your anxious feelings are coming from : Nervousness can be due to excitement. Remember that even if you feel nervous, you can still speak in public without failing.
  • If giving a presentation, remember it's about the topic : The people you are speaking to are focusing less on you personally and more on what you're saying.
  • Try to make eye contact : You may find that making eye contact with the individuals in the group you are addressing allows you to interact with them, and they may nod or smile as you speak, which can help boost your confidence.
  • If giving a formal presentation, rehearse a lot beforehand : It may help to rehearse in the actual space you will be giving a speech. Practicing in front of a group beforehand may help calm your nerves.
  • Experiment with different strategies to calm your nerves : Try deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, or smiling during your presentation (it releases endorphins, which lowers stress). Find out what works for you and then prepare in the same way every time you need to speak in public.

Treating social phobias like glossophobia can be complex, and it may require a number of approaches. Psychological interventions like therapy are known to be effective in the treatment of fear of public speaking.

Treating social phobias involves talk therapies, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy : Also referred to as CBT, this type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) is used to change unhealthy behaviors, particularly those that are related to anxiety, trauma, and depression.
  • Exposure therapy : This type of therapy can help a person overcome their avoidance of a certain object or situation by gradually exposing them to their phobia.

Typically, medication is not used in the treatment of phobias. However, a healthcare provider may prescribe medication for people experiencing significant symptoms of anxiety.

These may include:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Tranquilizers
  • Antidepressants

The fear of public speaking is a social phobia and may be caused by several factors, including genetics, learned behavior, and past experiences. It is the most commonly held fear, and people with glossophobia may experience anxiety surrounding either interaction with others, performing in public, or a combination of both. Using coping techniques and treatment involving psychotherapy can help people overcome the fear of public speaking.

Ebrahimi OV, Pallesen S, Kenter RMF, Nordgreen T. Psychological Interventions for the Fear of Public Speaking: A Meta-Analysis.   Front Psychol . 2019;10:488. Published 2019 Mar 15.

Tejwani V, Ha D, Isada C. Observations: Public Speaking Anxiety in Graduate Medical Education--A Matter of Interpersonal and Communication Skills? J Grad Med Educ. 2016 Feb;8(1):111. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-15-00500.1

American Psychological Association.  Specific phobia.

American Psychological Association. Social Phobia.

National Health Service. Overview - Agoraphobia .

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Social Phobia .

National Health Service. Social anxiety (social phobia) .

National Health Service.  Symptoms - phobias . 

Heeren A, Ceschi G, Valentiner DP, Dethier V, Philippot P.  Assessing public speaking fear with the short form of the Personal Report of Confidence as a Speaker scale: confirmatory factor analyses among a French-speaking community sample.   Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat . 2013;9:609-18. doi:10.2147%2FNDT.S43097

American Psychological Association. How to keep fear of public speaking at bay .

National Health Service.  Overview - Phobias

By Elizabeth Pratt Pratt is a freelance medical and mental health journalist with a master's degree in health communication.

Appointments at Mayo Clinic

Fear of public speaking: how can i overcome it, how can i overcome my fear of public speaking.

Fear of public speaking is a common form of anxiety. It can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic. Many people with this fear avoid public speaking situations altogether, or they suffer through them with shaking hands and a quavering voice. But with preparation and persistence, you can overcome your fear.

These steps may help:

  • Know your topic. The better you understand what you're talking about — and the more you care about the topic — the less likely you'll make a mistake or get off track. And if you do get lost, you'll be able to recover quickly. Take some time to consider what questions the audience may ask and have your responses ready.
  • Get organized. Ahead of time, carefully plan out the information you want to present, including any props, audio or visual aids. The more organized you are, the less nervous you'll be. Use an outline on a small card to stay on track. If possible, visit the place where you'll be speaking and review available equipment before your presentation.
  • Practice, and then practice some more. Practice your complete presentation several times. Do it for some people you're comfortable with and ask for feedback. It may also be helpful to practice with a few people with whom you're less familiar. Consider making a video of your presentation so you can watch it and see opportunities for improvement.
  • Challenge specific worries. When you're afraid of something, you may overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening. List your specific worries. Then directly challenge them by identifying probable and alternative outcomes and any objective evidence that supports each worry or the likelihood that your feared outcomes will happen.
  • Visualize your success. Imagine that your presentation will go well. Positive thoughts can help decrease some of your negativity about your social performance and relieve some anxiety.
  • Do some deep breathing. This can be very calming. Take two or more deep, slow breaths before you get up to the podium and during your speech.
  • Focus on your material, not on your audience. People mainly pay attention to new information — not how it's presented. They may not notice your nervousness. If audience members do notice that you're nervous, they may root for you and want your presentation to be a success.
  • Don't fear a moment of silence. If you lose track of what you're saying or start to feel nervous and your mind goes blank, it may seem like you've been silent for an eternity. In reality, it's probably only a few seconds. Even if it's longer, it's likely your audience won't mind a pause to consider what you've been saying. Just take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • Recognize your success. After your speech or presentation, give yourself a pat on the back. It may not have been perfect, but chances are you're far more critical of yourself than your audience is. See if any of your specific worries actually occurred. Everyone makes mistakes. Look at any mistakes you made as an opportunity to improve your skills.
  • Get support. Join a group that offers support for people who have difficulty with public speaking. One effective resource is Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization with local chapters that focuses on training people in speaking and leadership skills.

If you can't overcome your fear with practice alone, consider seeking professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a skills-based approach that can be a successful treatment for reducing fear of public speaking.

As another option, your doctor may prescribe a calming medication that you take before public speaking. If your doctor prescribes a medication, try it before your speaking engagement to see how it affects you.

Nervousness or anxiety in certain situations is normal, and public speaking is no exception. Known as performance anxiety, other examples include stage fright, test anxiety and writer's block. But people with severe performance anxiety that includes significant anxiety in other social situations may have social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia). Social anxiety disorder may require cognitive behavioral therapy, medications or a combination of the two.

Craig N. Sawchuk, Ph.D., L.P.

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  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • 90 tips from Toastmasters. Toastmasters International. https://www.toastmasters.org/About/90th-Anniversary/90-Tips. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • Stein MB, et al. Approach to treating social anxiety disorder in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • How to keep fear of public speaking at bay. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/tips-sidebar.aspx. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • Jackson B, et al. Re-thinking anxiety: Using inoculation messages to reduce and reinterpret public speaking fears. PLOS One. 2017;12:e0169972.
  • Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2017.

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afraid of public speaking essay

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How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking

Overcoming my Fear of Public Speaking

In this personal narrative, the writer will share their journey of overcoming the fear of public speaking. The essay will describe the challenges faced, strategies employed, and the personal growth experienced through this journey. It will discuss the impact of public speaking anxiety on personal and professional life and how overcoming it can lead to increased confidence and opportunities. The piece will provide insights and tips for others who struggle with similar fears, highlighting the importance of perseverance and self-improvement. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Anxiety.

How it works

“Jagger, you’re up.” My eighth-grade Social Studies teacher glanced at me with her bespeckled eyes and congenial smile.

My heart raced. My cheeks turned bright red and my body shook as if it were about to cave in. In an attempt to hide my anxiety, I looked away from my peers as I walked toward the podium. A panel of three teachers sat in front of me with concerned looks on their faces, as if my anxiety had manifested itself into some sort of physical being, which was now displayed center stage in front of over thirty of my peers.

The butterflies in my stomach swarmed as if they were alarmed by a predator within my own gastrointestinal system. I opened my mouth and began to speak.

I had meticulously tweaked my speech several times over the past week to ensure I would be less nervous about the presentation. The five index cards allocated to me by my teacher were filled with microscopic notes I had made to ensure I remembered every detail. This effort, unfortunately, proved futile as I quickly lost my train of thought. Maintaining eye contact with my audience turned into me losing my place in my speech several times. Projecting my voice became a laborious act as my voice shook in agony of the task at hand. Midway through my speech, I stopped and left the room.

In light of what happened, I was taunted by my classmates who had much higher expectations of me. Up to this point I had been known to raise my hand in class, weigh in on debates, and ask questions without fear of being judged. It was the thought of standing in front of my classmates and breaking the silence that shook me to my core. I had ideas and beliefs heavy on my mind and no way to release them into the world.

After that day, I thought about my speech and ran through it once more in my head. In doing so, I thought about my discussion of the advancement of America throughout history and the connection I made to my personal motto, “Excelsior”. This word, which I chose to live by after hearing it in the film Silver Linings Playbook, means “onward to greater things”. Inspired by this concept, I realized the irrationality of my fear and from that point on, I did everything in my power to overcome it. In this process, my confidence soared. I jumped at the chance to get in front of my classmates and enthusiastically presented my thoughts whenever I was given the chance. I entered organizations that required public speaking and assumed leadership roles within them. Soon enough, the overbearing feeling I would get before presentations became nothing more than a trivial discomfort. It was as if the ideas I had inside me grew tired of hiding from the world and began to force themselves out of me.

Overcoming my fear of public speaking was a journey of self-improvement and discovery. That fear once kept me from countless leadership and educational opportunities that I now pursue with every chance I am given. I have continued to use my voice as a way to offer new insight into class discussions and to breathe new life into lessons that would be otherwise unstimulating. Doing these things allows me to not only reap more benefits from my education but also to show others who may still be terrified of speaking in front of their classmates that it is okay to come out of their shell. After all, everyone has meaningful opinions to offer, but it takes courage and confidence to express them. How can we possibly hope to change the world if we refuse to let our ideas be heard? 

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Essay on Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

Students are often asked to write an essay on Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

Understanding fear.

Many people get scared when they have to speak in front of others. This fear can make your heart beat fast and your palms sweat. It’s normal to feel this way, but it’s important to remember that everyone can learn to be less afraid.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the best ways to get over this fear is to practice a lot. You can start by talking in front of a mirror, then with family, and slowly move to bigger groups. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Know Your Stuff

If you know what you’re talking about well, you’ll feel more confident. Take time to learn about your topic. When you understand it, you won’t be as worried about making a mistake.

Think Positive

Try to think good thoughts about speaking. Imagine people enjoying your talk and learning something new. Positive thinking can make a big difference in how you feel.

Breathe and Relax

Before you start speaking, take deep breaths to calm down. Stand up straight and smile. This will make you feel stronger and ready to share your ideas with the audience.

250 Words Essay on Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

When we talk about being scared of speaking in front of people, it’s normal. Many people get nervous when they have to talk to a group. This fear can come from not wanting to make a mistake or worrying about what others will think.

Starting Small

One way to beat this fear is to start with small steps. Try talking in front of friends or family first. It’s like learning to swim by first staying in the shallow part of the pool. As you get more comfortable, you can move to deeper water, or in this case, bigger groups.

Preparation Is Key

Being ready can help a lot. Know what you want to say. Practice it many times. When you know your topic well, you feel more confident. It’s like having a map when you go on a trip. If you know the way, you’re less likely to get lost.

Imagine Success

Think about doing well. Picture the audience listening and smiling. It’s like dreaming about scoring a goal in soccer. When you think about good things happening, it can make them more likely to happen.

Just Breathe

Before you speak, take deep breaths. This helps calm your body. It’s like taking a break when you’re running. Breathing gives you a moment to relax and get ready.

Keep Practicing

The more you speak in public, the easier it gets. It’s like riding a bike. At first, you might fall, but soon you can ride without thinking about it. Keep trying, and one day you might even enjoy speaking to a crowd!

500 Words Essay on Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking

Understanding fear of public speaking.

Many people get nervous when they have to talk in front of a group. This fear is very common, and it’s called the fear of public speaking. When we stand up to speak to an audience, we might worry that we will forget what to say, not make sense, or that people will not like our talk. This fear can make our heart beat fast, our hands shake, and our voice sound shaky.

One way to get better at public speaking is to start with small steps. You could begin by talking in front of a mirror, then move on to speaking in front of a few friends or family members. As you get more comfortable, you can speak to bigger groups. This is like learning to swim by first getting used to water in a small pool before jumping into a big one.

Preparing Well

Being ready can help you feel less scared. If you know your topic well, you will feel more confident. Spend time writing down what you want to say and practice it many times. You can also learn about your audience, so you can talk about things they like or understand. Knowing your stuff makes you ready to answer questions, too.

Using Tools and Techniques

There are tools and tricks that can make public speaking easier. For example, you can use pictures or slides to show your ideas. This can help the audience understand better and give you things to talk about. Breathing exercises can also calm you down before you start speaking. Taking deep breaths fills your body with oxygen and helps your brain work better.

Learning from Others

Watching other people who are good at public speaking can teach you a lot. You can see how they stand, how they use their hands, and how they talk to the audience. There are videos and talks online that you can watch. You can also join a club at school where you can practice speaking and get tips from others.

Turning Fear into Excitement

The feelings of fear and excitement are very similar. Both can make your heart race and your energy go up. You can try to think of your fear as excitement. Tell yourself that you are excited to share your ideas, not scared. This can change how you feel and make speaking in front of others more fun.

Getting Feedback and Improving

After you speak in public, ask for feedback from people you trust. They can tell you what you did well and what you can do better next time. Remember that making mistakes is okay. Each time you speak, you learn and get better.

Overcoming the fear of public speaking takes time and practice. By starting small, getting ready, using helpful tools, learning from others, turning fear into excitement, and getting feedback, you can become more comfortable speaking in front of others. Remember, even the best speakers were once beginners, too. With patience and practice, you can beat the fear and maybe even start to enjoy public speaking!

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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afraid of public speaking essay

Theo Tsaousides Ph.D.

How to Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking

Are you ready for a standing ovation.

Posted November 28, 2017 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

  • What Is Fear?
  • Find a therapist to combat fear and anxiety

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Fear of public speaking is very common, with almost 1 in 4 people reporting being anxious when presenting ideas and information in front of an audience. Being a good public speaker is an essential skill that can help you advance your career , grow your business, and form strong relationships.

Researchers have identified many reasons why we are afraid of public speaking , which you can read more about here . It seems that the way we feel, think, and act with respect to having to speak in public can raise or lower the amount of fear we experience significantly.

While fear teaches you to protect yourself in risky situations, letting that fear stand between you and your audience could prevent you from sharing inspiring ideas, speaking about important work, and presenting interesting solutions to problems that affect many people. In short, it’s everyone’s loss.

What can we do about it?

The factors that cause fear of public speaking are also the factors that researchers have targeted to help people overcome it. Several methods exist for conquering the fear of public speaking. Some of them address the physiological aspect of fear, others focus on the cognitive aspects, and a few focus on the behavioral components that contribute to higher levels of fear and anxiety around public speaking. Based on that research, here is where to start:

1. Learn how to put your body in a calm state.

A variety of relaxation techniques can reduce the increased physiological activity that the body produces automatically when confronted with an event or situation that causes fear. In the case of public speaking, the stimulus that causes fear can range from the actual speaking event itself to the mere thought of having to speak in public. Learning to relax while thinking about, preparing for, or giving an oral presentation reduces the experience of fear and prevents it from interfering with performance. Relaxation techniques involve learning to control your breathing, to lower your heart rate, and to lessen the tension in your muscles. These techniques work best when paired with gradual exposure to public speaking. For example, you begin applying these techniques first when you agree to speak, then as you prepare your speech, and eventually when you present it. You could also gradually increase the scale of the events as you learn how to manage your anxiety through relaxation, starting with very small audiences and moving up in numbers bit by bit. You could also start with speeches that are easier to prepare for or less scary to deliver to master the relaxation techniques, and then continue to use them as you enter speaking situations where the stakes are increasingly higher. Relaxation is an effective technique, with quick, but not necessarily long-lasting results.

2. Challenge your beliefs about public speaking.

Another way to conquer the fear of public speaking is to challenge your beliefs about your ability to prepare and deliver an effective and impactful speech. Cognitive reframing approaches target your negative self-statements ( I am not a good speaker; audiences find me boring ), or any irrational beliefs about public speaking ( People can see how anxious I am on stage ). Irrational, in this case, means that your beliefs are not supported by the facts or by your experience. Cognitive reframing helps you challenge negative statements and beliefs and replace them with favorable, supportive, and proactive statements. It is important to note that these techniques are not intended to simply replace negative thinking with vapid and meaningless statements. They challenge you to think more pragmatically and intentionally. In essence, you are teaching yourself to see public speaking as a non-threatening event that you can learn to handle and to see yourself as a confident speaker-in-progress.

3. Shift your focus from performance to communication.

A different cognitive approach includes shifting your perspective from being evaluated to being of value. You train yourself to see public speaking as a situation where you are communicating with people something that you think they will benefit from, instead of thinking of it as a situation where you will be tested and judged. That shift in perspective relieves you of the worry of how you will come across and focuses you on how to best get your message across.

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

A public speaking appearance is only the culmination of a thorough process of preparing and rehearsing your presentation. The more prepared you are, the less worried you will be about looking nervous, forgetting your lines, or losing your train of thought. Think about the amount of work actors put into delivering entire scripts in front of audiences. Approaching public speaking the same way actors approach performing will help you shift your focus from worrying to preparing, and the more prepared you are, the more focused on your message and the less distracted by your fear you will be. In this TEDx talk , Amy and Michael Port (author of Steal the Show ) encourage people to see themselves as performers and apply techniques similar to those that actors use “to create a reality of their choosing” in high-stakes situations that involve sharing ideas and information with other people. Such an approach allows you to accomplish your goal and at the same time maintain your authenticity . Remember, being underprepared is always more nerve-wracking than being overprepared.

5. Seek out more opportunities to speak.

Whether you are working on your body responses to fear, your view of yourself as a speaker, or your general approach to public speaking, the more experience you get, the more confidence you'll gain. Finding and creating opportunities to speak gives you the chance to practice what you have learned and get better at it. In addition, it helps you learn how to use your own experiences to continue improving your presentation skills. Essentially, you learn from what didn’t work well, instead of punishing yourself for it. And the more often you speak, the more you realize that what makes a good speaker is a combination of the noble intention to inform or inspire an audience, a positive mindset, and a lot of prep work.

6. Ask for help.

While you can do a lot to overcome the fear of public speaking on your own, there are many options available for a little extra help. Getting help can, in many cases, be a more effective way of achieving results than doing it alone. There are several tested interventions available to help overcome the fear of public speaking and many specialized professionals who deliver them . In addition to asking professionals for help, there are consumer-organized groups, like Toastmasters , which also provide opportunities for building your skills in a non-threatening and non-committal environment. Many people join such groups specifically to overcome their fear of public speaking.

afraid of public speaking essay

The bottom line is that if something scares you, you will avoid it, and if you avoid it, you will not get enough practice, and when you don’t get enough practice, you will not get better at it, and if you are not getting better at it, you will continue to be afraid of it. This cycle of fear can go on and on. But it doesn’t have to. With the number of options available, it is up to you to decide when and how to break this cycle of fear of public speaking.

LinkedIn Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

A Racing Heart, Rattling Knees, and Ruminative Thoughts: Defining, Explaining, and Treating Public Speaking Anxiety Graham D. Bodie, Louisiana State University

Theo Tsaousides Ph.D.

Theo Tsaousides, Ph.D. is a neuropsychologist, assistant professor, and author of the book Brainblocks: Overcoming the Seven Hidden Barriers to Success .

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afraid of public speaking essay

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How I Finally Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking

SUCCESS Speakers Bureau

When I was 6 years old, my father bought me a violin. It was a life-changing gift. I wouldn’t say I was a mind-blowing talent, but I was good with music and I enjoyed spending time studying it. At the age of 10, I started to perform small concerts. At first, they were just for my family and our circle of friends, but months later, I was playing the School of Fine Arts scene in my hometown. I can recall how nervous I was before every single concert. But once I started to play, I entered a state of ease and flow, and my violin became my best friend.

Years later, I was working for a multinational corporation, first in Romania and later in Sweden and China. During my time with this company, I was involved in a lot of business projects and my leadership role required me to speak both in front of my team and in management meetings. And I have to confess: It wasn’t always easy.

Speaking in public was very different from playing an instrument onstage. At concerts, my violin was there with me, and that was a tremendous source of comfort; I didn’t feel alone. Speaking in front of my colleagues at work, though, I was all by myself and fighting all kinds of fears and negative voices in my head : What if I say something stupid ? Will I look professional enough ? What if they don’t like my ideas?

What I didn’t realize at that time, and what I know to be true now, is that I was dealing with serious self-esteem and confidence issues . Perfection was my worst enemy, and nothing I was doing felt good enough.

The truth is, I needed people to like me because I didn’t like myself . Speaking in front of people was a challenge for me for many years. It made me feel nervous and sometimes stuck. When I was in front of bigger audiences and with people I wasn’t familiar with, my fingers tingled, my pulse sped up and I could feel my heart beating in my throat.

I tried the old trick of imagining my audience in their underwear. It didn’t work. It felt fake. The people I had in front of me were not naked; they had their clothes on. That was what I had to learn to confront: reality.

Here are the four things that truly helped me to overcome my fear of speaking in public:

1. I found balance.

It sounds simple, but it made a tremendous positive change in the quality of my speech. Holding something small—like a pen—helped center and balance me. It was like holding a bow in my right hand and having my violin with me. It might have just been a pen, but I felt less alone.

2. I made friends with my fear.

The fear of public speaking is relatively common, and can make it difficult for people to speak up or interact during meetings and presentations. 

But I had to stop letting fear make me weak. Instead, I learned how to embrace it as simply part of being human. I recognized that in the case of public speaking, the biological purpose of fear was to protect me from the emotional injury of not being liked or not doing a good job. The moment I changed my fear from an enemy to a protective friend, everything changed. My fear was still with me, but now it was there to support me and keep me safe.

3. I detached from other people’s opinion of me.

Being liked, accepted and appreciated by others is a basic human need, and since an early age, many of us have been raised to take other people’s opinions into account. So it is no surprise that we show up in the world trying to fit into someone else’s expectations.

I believe that seeking self-validation through other people turns us into their prisoners. If we worry about what other people think about us, we are focusing on them instead of ourselves and the message we want to deliver. We can’t control what other people feel, but we are in charge of our own feelings, thoughts and emotions.

When I know that what other people think of me has nothing to do with me and doesn’t define me, I set myself free from any judgment . What they see in me is their opinion. Some might perceive me as smart, funny and talented. Others might think I’m an average public speaker—or even a lousy one. To some, I might look pretty. To others, I might not. It’s all about their personal standards of beauty or intelligence, and it has nothing to do with me.

4. I learned new skills and acquired some practical information on public speaking.

Whether it’s planning for a speech or keeping my audience interested in the topic and inspired to know more, practice is essential. The more I dared to stand up and speak, the easier it became. Today, I start all my speeches with the intention of just doing the best I can. There is no need for perfection . I have learned how to make a mistake and get over it gracefully instead of punishing myself. No pressure. Pure freedom!

Sharing my knowledge in public has become a source of genuine joy and fulfillment. And now, I would like to hear from you. How confident are you speaking in public? Are you facing any challenges?

This article was published in November 2017 and has been updated. Photo by garetsworkshop /Shutterstock

Sara Fabian

Sara Fabian

Sara Fabian is a Women’s career and empowerment Coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. In addition to her life coaching practice, she also works with female leaders who want to know how to build on their authentic strengths, empower their teams and become the inspiring leaders everyone would want to follow. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at www.sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn .

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Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety: Strategies For Confident Presentations

  • Presentation , Public Speaking

Stressed man

Do you ever feel anxious when asked to give a presentation? If so, you’re not alone. Public speaking is one of the most common sources of anxiety for many people. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right strategies and mindset, anyone can become a confident public speaker. 

We’ll discuss some practical tips on how to overcome your fear of public speaking and deliver engaging presentations with ease. 

Before we move forward, it’s important to take some of the heat off and you can do that by taking this quiz , calming some of your anxiety, and getting to know more about yourself. 

From understanding your audience’s needs to using powerful body language techniques, these strategies will help you create memorable experiences for your listeners and boost their engagement with your message. 

So let’s get started!

Understand Your Audience

Understanding the needs and expectations of your audience is a key step in overcoming public speaking anxiety.  

To start, it’s important to find out as much information as possible about the people you’ll be addressing. What are their goals? What kind of language do they use? Are there any cultural considerations that should be taken into account? 

Once you have an understanding of the people you’ll be talking to, you’ll be better able to craft your message in a way that resonates with them. 

Make sure to do some research on similar topics and use analogies or stories that will appeal to their interests. 

By taking the time to understand your audience, you’ll have greater confidence when it comes time to present. 

Prepare Thoroughly 

Once you have a better understanding of your audience, it’s time to begin preparing. 

Start by writing down the main points you want to make in your presentation and practice saying them out loud. 

This will help ensure that you’re speaking clearly and confidently when it comes time for your talk. 

Don’t forget to prepare visual aids —like slides or handouts—to back up your points and keep the audience engaged. 

Finally, make sure to practice in front of a mirror or record yourself speaking so you can identify any areas for improvement before delivering your presentation. 

By taking the time to thoroughly prepare, you’ll have greater confidence when it comes time to present. 

Make A Connection With Your Listeners

Connecting with your audience is key to any successful presentation. 

To start, make sure you’re making direct eye contact with individuals in the room and smile often . 

Be sure to use body language that conveys enthusiasm for the topic. 

If possible, tell a personal story or anecdote related to the subject to further engage your listeners. 

Finally, use humor when appropriate to keep the audience interested and energized. 

By taking the time to make a connection with your listeners, you’ll be better able to engage them and gain their trust. 

This will help you maintain greater confidence throughout your presentation and create a memorable experience for everyone involved.  

Project Confidence Through Body Language 

Your body language can play a huge role in how confident you appear when speaking. 

To start, stand or sit up straight with your shoulders back —this gives off an air of authority and will help you feel more confident in yourself . 

Don’t be afraid to use hand gestures when appropriate to emphasize certain points or create emphasis. 

Finally, make sure to keep your movements fluid and natural —avoid rigid motions or fidgeting which can undermine your confidence. 

By using body language that projects confidence and authority, you’ll be able to effectively engage with your audience and present your message with ease.  

With practice and dedication, anyone can become a confident public speaker.

Speak Slowly And Clearly 

Speaking slowly and clearly is essential to any successful presentation. 

To start, pause regularly to ensure everyone in the audience has time to process your words. 

Don’t be afraid to emphasize certain points by speaking louder or slower —this will help keep your listeners engaged and make sure they don’t miss a single point. 

Finally, make sure to practice ahead of time so you can get a feel for how quickly or slowly you should be speaking . 

By taking the time to practice, you’ll be able to deliver your presentation with confidence and clarity. 

With dedication and preparation, anyone can become a confident public speaker! 

Use Visual Aids To Engage The Audience 

Visual aids are a great way to engage and captivate your audience. 

Use slides or handouts to break up your speaking points and add visuals that will help reinforce certain ideas. 

Consider using props or demonstrations to illustrate difficult concepts or show how something works in action. 

Be sure to make the visual elements of your presentation interactive and engaging. 

This will help keep your audience involved and create a memorable experience for everyone. 

By taking the time to prepare visuals, you’ll be able to effectively engage with your audience and provide an enjoyable experience for all those involved.  

With practice and dedication, anyone can become a confident public speaker!

Adopt Positive Affirmations 

Positive affirmations can help to boost self-confidence and performance in any setting. 

To start, think of two or three positive statements that are relevant to your presentation such as “I have all the knowledge I need to deliver an effective presentation” or “I am confident and capable”.  

Repeat these phrases out loud or in your head the morning of your presentation to help boost confidence. 

Finally, try to imagine yourself delivering a successful presentation as you repeat these affirmations—this will help build positive feelings around the event and further increase self-confidence. 

With practice and dedication, anyone can become a confident public speaker!  Adopting positive affirmations is an easy and effective way to boost confidence before any presentation. 

With time and dedication, these affirmations can help create a memorable experience for both the speaker and their audience. 

Public speaking can be daunting, but with the right strategies and techniques, anyone can become a confident presenter. 

By using body language to project confidence, speaking slowly and clearly, incorporating visual aids into your presentation, and adopting positive affirmations you’ll be able to engage audiences of any size. 

With practice and dedication, anyone can master these principles of public speaking – all that remains is for you to take action! 

Start today by writing out some positive affirmations or practicing in front of the mirror. You’ve got this!

SiddhiC

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afraid of public speaking essay

Home / Essay Samples / Life / Fear / Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

  • Category: Life , Sociology , Psychology
  • Topic: Fear , Personal Life , Phobias

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