Basics of Public Speaking
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Lesson 5 - Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

A famous speaker once said, "The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working at the moment of birth and doesn't stop until we get up to speak in public". I remember my first time speaking, standing in front of only 23 people, my legs were shaking. I felt nauseous. It was difficult to breathe. I got through that experience mainly because I was prepared. I am still nervous years later, though much less now. I have learned that nervousness is never a big problem - unless I'm unprepared!

Understanding that everyone gets nervous can help us begin to overcome our own nervousness. Suzanne Bates, author of Speak Like a CEO wrote, "If your heart is beating fast, it's usually a great opportunity". Being nervous is actually a good sign, so take advantate of it. It's perfectly normal, so don't worry about it. Above all, don't let it stop you from performing. In my observations working with thousands of new speakers over the years, the audience almost never notices the speaker's nervousness! If you just keep going, things will turn out well. Of course, you must be prepared - see lessons 2, 3 and 4. As long as you are ready to speak and focus on your message, you will do well.

Many experienced speakers say that nervousness helps them do well. You can start to use your feelings to motivate you to prepare the best speech you can. When you are nervous, you will stay focused on your goal - to successfully communicate your message.

If you still find that nervousness is a problem, try these tips for dealing with fear of public speaking:

Tip One

Breathe deeply before you get up to speak. This will help your body relax while also helping your brain think. As you breathe normally, you will look very confident to your audience which can help you focus on your job.

Tip Two

Visualize yourself speaking confidently and successfully completing your speech. Before you actually get up in front of the audience, imagine exactly how it will feel to get up in front of the audience, relaxed and with a smile on your face. Imagine the sound of the audience as they applaud and your calm feeling as you wait for the applause to stop before you start speaking. If you visualize every step of your presentation, you will be more likely to perform smoothly, or you will adapt easily if something unexpected happens.

Tip Three

Find friendly faces in the crowd and focus on them. Remember, they want you to succeed and are hoping to learn something from you. Just remember to look at faces on each side of the room to avoid ignoring half of your audience!

Tip Four

One advanced speaker said he still feels nervous and can't look the audience in the eye or he feels more nervous, so he looks at their foreheads! The audience will never notice if you do this. It will seem to everyone that you are making great eye contact even if you are not, precisely, looking into their eyes.

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