How to overcome public speaking fears and gain confidence?
Do you get nervous when asked to give a presentation? Maybe you’re fine in small groups, but can’t sleep at the thought of being on stage for an event. Perhaps, speaking in front of the boss makes you sweat and shake. You’re not alone. Most people are afraid to speak in public, particularly in certain situations. But, you can manage your public speaking fears and gain confidence in increasingly stressful situations.
How do we do this? Simple, (1) Develop your skills and techniques so you can prepare a presentation that you feel good about, (2) Practice with increasing exposure, and (3) Use mind-body tools. Let’s take a look at each one of these.
#1 – DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS
First, we develop our skills and techniques so we know what we’re doing. Just like learning to ski or skate, we’re apt to fall if we don’t have the skills. When we learn a new skills, our fears decrease and our confidence grows. I’m often asked, “But aren’t people are just born great public speakers?” Let me be clear, “NO! Public speaking is a skill.” It’s a skill that requires physical and mental techniques and strategy. The techniques enable you to efficiently develop clear and memorable key messages and engaging slides. You can learn all these.
Knowing how to use your body, your voice, and your hands; and feeling good about your message and slides go a long way toward reducing your fears. Skills and preparation are the basis for confidence.
Reputable courses give you tools to get started, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. For important presentations, you can also use experts. Just like accountants help you finetune your financial strategy, communication experts can help with your communication strategy and slides. With a great presentation in hand and a body skilled at presenting, we’re ready for the second step.
#2 – PRACTICE
We need to practice in situations with increasing exposure. Practice helps us smooth out bumps and refine our presentation and our speaking skills. The brain builds stronger connections with repetition, so your presentations become easier. Start by practicing out-loud on your own. Then, try your presentation in front of a small audience, then larger audiences. If possible, practice in the room where you will give the speech. You can also practice mentally. Practice creates comfort and confidence in the brain.
#3 – USE MIND-BODY TOOLS
Sometimes, despite our preparation and practice, our body still reacts to stressful situations like public speaking. Different people have different physical reactions – for example, you may sweat or shake, your your heart may race, or your mind might go blank. There are many possible physical reactions. These happen automatically and seem uncontrollable, but there are ways to manage them. Fortunately, we can use our body to control our mind AND our mind to control our body.
Thanks to advances in neuroscience, cognitive behavioural therapy, and sports psychology; we now have a deeper understanding of how fear works and how it can be managed. There are specific tools and exercises to reprogram our brain and reduce these pesky stressful reactions.
Used by CEOs, Olympic athletes, and the military
Public speaking is a stressful situation, but there are other stressful situations. Imagine becoming a CEO with thousands of employees, going to the Olympics with a chance to win a gold medal, or participating in a miliary situation with bullets flying. These are stressful situations. How do they prepare? Exactly the same way! (1) They work with experts and learn the skills of their craft. (2) They “practice” and perform at small venues or in more junior roles. (3) And sometimes, they rely on trainers to help them overcome performance anxiety with mind-body tools.
Which training course helps you overcome public speaking fears to build confidence?
If you’ve never had a proper presentation training course, take a comprehensive 2-day course that includes video feedback. We offer one and there are others. While most of our courses cover skills, practice, and confidence tools; the 2-day course provides the essential tools to build confidence.
If you have already attended presentation training courses, but you are lacking confidence with a specific presentation, I suggest our 1-day practice and coaching workshop. Here you’ll receive help with the presentation, practice and coaching to boost your skills.
If you have already attended presentation training course, but regularly feel stressed in speaking situations, I suggest our Confidence Clinic. This course focuses on mind-body tools. It is highly recommended for those speaking to large groups for leaders regularly facing stressful situations.
Don’t let public speaking fears hold you back, contact us to help! 🙂
Kimberly VanLandingham is the CEO of European Market Link Sàrl, the owner of Presentation Training Switzerland.com. She has 12 years of training experience and 20 years of experience with DuPont, including as a product spokesperson on TV and radio and business leader. Today, she offer training in public speaking, media, and cross-cultural communication to international business leaders and technical teams. She has a Masters in cross-cultural communication and a BS in engineering.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-teal-v-neck-shirt-wearing-black-framed-eyeglasses-3907760/