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How to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Stage fright is a common fear that affects many business owners and even very successful people. A successful speech can position you as a thought leader and be instrumental in your Public Relations strategy. If picturing the audience in their underwear has not worked for you, here are a few additional strategies to help you conquer your fear:

Focus on key points: Instead of memorizing a speech, structure your presentation around 3-5 key points. A memorized speech typically comes across stilted, and if you forget a few words or a sentence it can throw off your entire presentation. Having clear key points also makes your speech easier for your audience to understand and remember. Beginning your presentation with a brief summary of the key points will help your audience recognize the takeaways of your speech.

Interact: One of the scariest parts of public speaking is that it can feel like the entire room is against you. Break out of this isolation by bringing the audience into your presentation. It will make your speech much more engaging and also break through the wall of fear by humanizing your audience. Not only will you find that asking for audience participation keeps them attentive, it will also serve to reduce your stage fright because you are sharing the stage with your audience. Asking for shows of hands, volunteer participants, and vocal responses are good tools to consider.

Start with Why: You need to ask yourself: Why you are there to speak? What is the point of your speech? What do you hope to achieve? Keep your ego aside and understand that the audience is not there to watch you fail, but to find value in what you have to say. When it isn’t about you, it is much easier to reduce stage fright and convey the information in an interesting and engaging way. Keep the “why” at the center of your presentation and don’t let fear take you off track.

Watch and Learn: Have you ever seen a speaker who is calm, clear, articulate, engaging, and insightful? Instead of watching great speakers in awe, take careful note of the ways in which they present themselves and the information. You can learn a lot by watching great speakers and visualizing yourself using their techniques.

Don’t Do It: If the fear of public speaking is keeping you from opportunities to share your expertise, then find another way. Try filming a webinar for online exposure. If having an audience is what trips you up, filming a presentation and distributing it through online platforms can give you the same exposure as a thought leader. And if you mess up, you can always take two (or ten).

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About Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is the founder and CEO of Little Penguin PR, a boutique Public Relations Company in San Diego, California. Her background is in public relations and business development. After graduating from Duke University, she gained branding and marketing experience starting up a new division of Abercrombie & Fitch (“Gilly Hicks”) at their corporate headquarters.…