Taking the pain out of public speaking

Picture this: you’re standing on a stage, clutching a microphone in one hand (ew, clammy) and cue cards in the other. Your legs wobble as you peer behind the curtain, revealing an audience of eagerly-anticipating faces. It’s time for your big intro. As the curtain lifts, your mind draws a blank, beads of sweat fall and all of a sudden… the spotlight lands on you!

Now, if the very thought of this scenario has got you shakin’ in your boots, then join the club. Seriously. The stats are pretty wild, with studies finding that 75% of people fear public speaking more than they fear death! Gulp. This means that – and yes, we’re going to quote Seinfeld here: “to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Like all phobias, this one has a groovy name: ‘Glossophobia.’ And although the figures from studies aren’t exactly conclusive, glossophobia is a very big deal for a lot of people, with 1 in 4 claiming to have felt those public speaking jitters at one point or another – be it in the workplace or in social situations.

What is glossophobia?

Glossophobia comes from the Greek words “glōssa” (tongue) and “phobos” (fear). Public speaking places us in a vulnerable position, often in front of a large audience. When glossophobia kicks in, you might feel your heart racing, break out in a cold sweat, or even get a little shaky. These reactions are really common and can be triggered for different reasons;

Fear of judgement: One of the main reasons people fear public speaking is the potential for negative judgement from the audience. The concern about making mistakes or not meeting expectations can lead to anxiety and self-doubt.

Perceived high stakes: Public speaking often involves presenting crucial information, which can add pressure, contributing to the fear and anxiety surrounding public speaking.

Public speaking anxiety can develop at an early age and it can be hard to shake off in adulthood. The impact of this can be huge; affecting self-esteem, avoidance of social situations, and decreased job opportunities.

How can you overcome your fear of public speaking?

Does it all sound frighteningly familiar? We hear you, however conquering glossophobia is totally doable.
At HappyMind, we’ve got years of training excellence under our belts. That means we’ve had plenty of practice at presenting ideas to wide-eyed audiences. Public speaking is almost second nature to us. But, trust us: sharpening your communication tools is a life-long practice. And, we’ve developed several fun and effective strategies to help you become a confident public speaker. A few ideas to get you started;

Know your stuff

Being well-prepared and knowledgeable about your topic can give you a real confidence boost. Do your research and organise your content in a way that’s easy for you to understand and present.

Practice, practice, practice

It may sound like a no-brainer but the more you practise speaking in front of people, the more comfortable you’ll get. But before you run a mile, let’s start with an audience of one: you. Practise your speech or presentation a few times, and try doing it in front of a mirror, recording yourself, or even roping in some friends as a friendly audience.

Be yourself

You are you. Don’t change that. Embrace your unique speaking style and let your personality shine through. People appreciate authenticity, so don’t try to imitate someone else.

Visualise success

Imagine yourself delivering a show-stopping speech, and picture the audience’s positive reaction. This mental exercise can help build self-confidence.

Adopt confident body language

Posture is everything. It doesn’t matter how tall or short you are, when your posture is straight and aligned, you’ll appear in control and confident. So, stand tall, maintain eye contact, and use natural gestures to engage your audience.

Use notes or visual aids

Having notes or visual aids is not, we repeat not cheating. Cues can help you stay on track and provide a sense of security in case you lose your train of thought. Don’t write a script, go with bullet points.

Breathe and relax

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help calm nerves before and during your speech. Try box breathing or practising mindfulness to stay centred.

HappyMind Blog | Public Speaking
Engage your audience

Make eye contact, ask questions and use a little humour to keep your listeners interested and involved. This can help you feel more connected to your audience and less isolated on stage.

Accept imperfection

Nobody’s perfect, so don’t stress about every little mistake. Embrace the fact that you might stumble, and remember that it’s totally okay. Most people won’t even notice!

Ask for feedback

Constructive criticism can help you grow as a speaker. Be open to feedback, and use it as an opportunity to improve for your next presentation.

Join a public speaking group

We love organisations like meetup.com who regularly facilitate supportive environments for people to connect and share wisdom. Search the app for opportunities in your area to practise public speaking and develop your skills alongside others who share your goal.

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous, and those that are liars.”

Mark Twain

Most of us have experienced the public speaking jitters, but with a little practice and patience, you’ll be rockin’ the mic in no time!

HappyMind Blog | Public Speaking

Want to learn more about ways you can develop a happier mind? We offer a whole host of inspirational training courses to help you (and your team) grow. Want to get in touch? We’d love that! Ping us a message to let us know what’s on your mind.

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