The fear of public speaking is the most common fear today. It affects arguably a majority of men and women, depending on how you define it. Talking to a large group at once causes people mild to severe anxiety, and can make it difficult to meet friends, branch out at work, or perform duties that you were asked to perform.
Strategies That Are Effective at Overcoming Public Speaking Fear
If you fear public speaking, it is a good idea to focus on ways to change your perspective, and seek out strategies that teach you how to speak in public more comfortably. Examples include:
- Exposure/CBT – Therapy that focuses on identifying and changing maladaptive thoughts, managing negative emotions, and more directly conquering fear by gradually experiencing lighter versions of your public speaking fear until you get used to it, and then slowly increasing the emotional difficulty. Organizations like Toastmasters can be a great place to start.
- Focus on Talking Before Being Perfect – Practice public speaking with friends and family with a focus on experience, not on being good. Just get used to talking in front of people, without any intention of being funny, skilled, or successful. Simply being up there to talk can help you get used to what it means to be a public speaker.
- Reduce Stress Outside of Public Speaking – Anxiety and stress are cumulative, so the happier and more relaxed you are in other areas of your life, the less public speaking anxiety you will have.
- Exercise Beforehand – Exercise decreases excess energy and releases hormones that improve mood. It also tends to build confidence, which can be very effective for public speaking.
Experience is going to be the best tool you have at your disposal to help you overcome any public speaking fear. Learning to talk in front of others and using cognitive tricks to stop the negative thoughts that people have before and after speaking is the next step. There may be times when you need to make more extensive life changes as well.
But it is absolutely possible to become a better public speaker. Since public speaking is a talent that is good for one’s career and social life, it is worth prioritizing as something for you to work on throughout 2018 and beyond. If you would like help with your public speaking anxiety in the Garden City/Lawrence areas, call me today at (516) 732-0273.