5 tactics to beat the fear of public speaking

Why bother trying to sort your fear of public speaking?

Short answer - your fear of public speaking will be holding you back at work and in life.

Love these quotes!

‘Nervousness is the price a racehorse pays for not being a cow’
‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’
‘Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death’

In these digital days the need for public speaking and presentation skills are even more in demand. People want to engage with real people - they want to get away from their screens. However - expectations are also far greater these days. Gone are the days of boring presentations being acceptable as the norm!

So you need to not only get onside with the idea of doing presentations - but you also need to rethink the way you give them. You need to enjoy them too - it shows when you don’t.

Getting better at doing talks and presentations is one thing - but what If you have a very real public speaking fear and don’t even get to the starting point. Well, you are not alone. 

But what if you are stuck in a pattern of negative thinking?

You might have felt like this since you were at school.  You might therefore have given up any idea of this situation changing. It has become part of our identity in fact. Maybe you repeatedly say things like this:

‘Huh! You won’t catch me getting up and speaking in front of room full of people! Not my thing.’

‘I’d rather wrestle with crocodiles than do any public speaking’

Crocodile fear of public speaking

Maybe you have done quite a few presentations but you still dread them - can’t wait for them to be over.  

Or you might have had one go badly and that's one that you remember more than any that went well! Our brains are wired to go to the negative before the positive - it is part of our survival mechanism.

Welcome to the breeding ground of fear! 

Now let's stop that breeding!  This is about tactics and practice - nothing magical.

Manage your fear of public speaking -  5 Tactics to try

1.Stop fighting the anxiety

●     Anxiety is a universal experience - not strange and not unique to you

●     Keep perspective

●     Anxiety shows that you are ‘working’ and ‘healthy’! You need nerves for energy.

●     Focus the energy - direct it

2. Focus on your content

●     Come out of your self-conscious habits - will they like me/do I look OK

●     Believe in your content - enjoy it - know it

●     Practice Practice Practice

●     Nail the first few lines (which is when nerves are most intense)

●     Have good flow - so it makes sense and you don’t forget what you are saying

3. Focus on your purpose

Forget to be afraid. Be wrapped up in what you are doing and why - rather than consumed with the fear.      

●     Why are you there

●     Why is your message important

●     What can it do for them

4. Get to know the audience

●     They are not there to block you and make fun of you

●     They are individuals  - most likely to be on your side

●     Study the crowd - don’t isolate yourself

●     Break down the barrier

5.Breath and Body preparation

●     Loosen up and drink water!

●     Breathe from your ‘stomach area’ not your upper chest and throat (excellent video link - watch it!)

●     Do some shake up/flop about moves beforehand (energise and relax balance)

●     Slide your voice up and down ‘ah,ooo, eee’- warms it up and keeps it free

●     Do a couple of tongue twisters - gets your tongue and lips warmed up! 

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Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.

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