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The fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears out there. The fear of being put under a microscope, of being judged, of making a mistake in front of a big crowd … I get it, and I can relate because I remember feeling that way myself back in the day. If you dread public speaking, recognize that you are definitely not alone. The good news, though, is that it is 100% possible to get to a place where you excel at public speaking and even really enjoy it! Getting comfortable with public speaking takes effort, but the rewards are huge. It provides you an opportunity to share your message and have a powerful, positive impact on people’s lives and on the world.
As I write this, I am on a plane home from giving a keynote speech in California, and I am reflecting on my time there. When I was getting checked in at the hotel for the event, the person helping me with my bag asked me what I was in for. I told him that I was speaking at an event the next day, and he looked surprised. He then shared that he was awful at public speaking. I even heard a quiver in his voice when he said it as if the thought of speaking in front of a group terrified him. I told him that I understood and that I used to have fears of my own. I then said that there were a few things that could possibly help him shift his perspective. Here are five things that have helped me regularly step on stage with confidence, and my hope is that they will help you as well!
Related: 10 Tips to Beat Your Fear of Public Speaking
1. Talk about things you really care about
When I look back at the speeches I gave in my college communications class, the topics were not things that I was passionate about. Those were the times when my nerves were at an all-time high. Once I started talking about things that I really cared about, I started to thoroughly enjoy public speaking. When you see the value in your message, and you are excited about sharing it with others, you will show up with more ease and confidence. Aim to speak about topics that are important to you, and that will help you speak more naturally and passionately.
2. Make it about them, not you
Focus on the value you are bringing to the audience and how the message you are sharing can help them. Take your focus away from yourself, and put your energy into your mission and how you are helping others with what you are sharing. With this shift in attention, you will be less likely to worry about making a mistake or being judged, because your focus is on making a positive impact on the audience.
Related: Why You Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It
3. Practice speaking in different environments
Confidence with public speaking grows with time and practice. What are some easy and accessible ways that you can practice public speaking? When I knew that I wanted to ignite a professional keynote speaking career, I decided to start a podcast. I knew it would help me get a lot of practice speaking on a regular basis. I also started recording video content for social media, and I became comfortable seeing and hearing myself speak. All of these things helped me feel more confident speaking with all eyes on me. It also helped me under higher-pressure situations, like live TV appearances.
Some things that may help you include practicing your talk in front of a mirror, presenting your speech to your family and recording yourself on your phone. Get over the awkwardness of hearing and seeing yourself speak, and be able to laugh at hiccups along the way. Be open to feedback, and remember to have fun with it. Putting in the time and effort to prepare for your talk will help you step up on the day of the event with confidence and excitement.
4. Embrace the nerves as part of the process
Recognize that feeling nervous before speaking to a large group or before stepping on stage is part of the process. Try to embrace the excitement and jitters that can come with public speaking, and recognize that they are a sign of personal development and growth. Lean into those feelings, and move through them. Make sure to be proud of yourself for the progress you make!
Related: How to Become a Confident Public Speaker
5. Incorporate self-care before your talk
On my recent trip to California for a keynote, I planned out my morning to make sure that I had time to get in a run outdoors before my talk. For me, exercise and getting out in nature helps me get into a mindset to do my best. It also helps me shake off any nerves that I am feeling before a big event. Be intentional with how you spend your time on the day you are giving a talk. Incorporate things that will support your well-being and help you keep stress in check. By making yourself a priority, you will be able to show up as the best version of yourself to make a powerful positive impact.
Disclaimer: This content purely represents the opinion of the author. It is not intended to give medical advice or treatment recommendations. Always talk to your healthcare provider about recommendations specific to you.