One of the common kinds of anxiety is caused by the fear of public speaking. This anxiety can range from a little bit of nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic attacks. Several people suffering from this fear tend to avoid public speaking situations completely or they just go on and suffer through them with a quivering voice and shaking hands. But if you can show persistence and prepare for the event well, you can overcome the fear. Here are some steps to help you overcome the fear of public speaking.
Know the topic
The more you are aware of what you are talking about more you will care about the topic and the less likely you are to make mistakes and go off track. In case you do get lost there is all probability that you will recover quickly. Devote some time to thinking about the questions your audience may ask and keep your responses ready for them.
Practice quite a lot
Make sure that you practice the presentation many times over. You can do it in front of people you are comfortable with and ask for their feedback. It is also a good idea to practice with other people you are not so familiar with. Think about making a video of the presentation that allows you to watch it and visualize the opportunities for improvement.
You may join a group that offers support for people having difficulty in public speaking. One of the more effective resources is Toastmasters which is a non-profit organization having certain local chapters that concentrate on training people in leadership and speaking skills. You can also find online sources to help you with the session. One of the methods of doing that is using Job Training Courses. Some of them have affiliations with renowned universities.
Challenge your particular worries
If you are afraid of something you will overestimate the chances of something bad happening. For this, list down all the worries, then challenge them directly by identifying the possible outcomes. Also, find objective evidence about all these worries that create the likelihood of the feared outcome happening.
Visualize that your presentation will go down well. Having positive thoughts helps in reducing the negativity you are feeling about the social performance and it also relieves some of the anxiety you are facing. Doing some deep breathing can also help in reducing anxiety. It has a calming effect. Take a couple of slow and deep breaths before you rise to the podium and also during the actual speech.
Concentrate more on the material and not on the audience
People basically pay attention to the new information and not as much to the way it is presented. They might not even notice the nervousness you are feeling. If they do notice that you are nervous they might root for you and wish that the presentation turns out to be a success.
Do not fear the moments of silence
Sometimes you may lose track of the things you are talking about or begin feeling nervous. This may cause your mind to go blank and it appears as if you have been silent for a long while although it is only a few seconds in reality. Even if this period extends a bit there is all probability that the audience will not mind this pause for considering the things you have been saying. Just take some deep, slow breaths.
Recognize the success of your speech
After you have completed the presentation or speech, remind yourself to give a pat on your own back. Although the presentation may not have been perfect there is every chance that you are being far more critical about your efforts than the audience is. Check whether any of the expected worries happened because everyone makes mistakes and you need to look at them objectively to consider it as an opportunity for improving your skills.
If you are unable to overcome your fear of public speaking by just practicing these things you can consider getting professional help. One of the skill-based approaches is CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and this is a successful line of treatment for decreasing your fear of public speaking. Another alternative is prescribed medicine from your doctor that can be used just before public speaking. When the doctor has prescribed such medicine it is a good idea to try it before the actual public speaking engagement to check out how it affects you.