Public speaking skills have been practised from the earliest days of our lives, yet 75% of people worldwide have a fear of speaking in front of large audiences.
How to get over this fear and become a better speaker? What are the best public speaking tips?
We have the answers!
Fear of Public Speaking Statistics
Feeling nervous before speaking at conferences? Is the fear of giving a public speech in front of your colleagues and superiors at meetings keeping you up at night?
You are not the only one.
According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, 75% of the entire global population struggles with the fear of public speaking at least once in their lifetime.
There is even a name for this particular phenomenon. Known as glossophobia, i.e. the phobia of public speaking, it is characterised by emotional, mental and physical distress appearing when asked to speak in public.
It seems that certain demographics are more likely to develop a fear of public speaking.
According to one survey, 44% of women said they had a fear of speaking in public, compared to 37% of men. On the other hand, people with higher education tend to be more comfortable when speaking in public. Thus, 52% of respondents with a secondary school diploma or less had a fear of public speaking as opposed to just 24% of university and college graduates who were considered good public speakers.
How Does Fear of Public Speaking Affect People?
Most employers place a lot of value on a worker’s communication skills, even in industries where no previous experience is required. In fact, this is one of the highest-rated requirements for new hires, preceding integrity and ambition.
What’s more, a US study revealed that fear of speaking in front of audiences can impair your chances of higher salary and promotion by 10 and 15%, respectively.
Some of the physical symptoms related to glossophobia can include:
- Excessive sweating
- Higher heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
- Dizziness, nausea and headaches
People with social phobias, such as fear of public speaking, are also more at risk of developing serious mental disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as physical conditions like heart disease.
12 Public Speaking Tips and Tricks
With Covid-19 still forcing many to work from home, public speaking is no longer optional in the workplace. Most of us are required to join a video meeting or Zoom call at least once a week, meaning that speaking in front of an audience is now a must-have skill.
So, how to improve your public speaking skills?
Take a second to calm down and breathe slowly in and out to settle your nerves.
2. Know your audience
This is key when speaking at conferences, webinars or when making a presentation to clients. Knowing the audience’s interests, age and profession will help you adapt your speech to that specific demographic.
3. Be open about your condition
The more nervous you are, the more it shows. So, admit that you are feeling a bit stressed and hope that being open and transparent will take some of the tension away.
4. Use short notes
If you have a long speech written out, you might tend to look at the paper more than the audience. So, ensure notes are short and briefly glance at your speech, keeping your eyes on the audience.
Eye contact is crucial, but so is feedback from the crowd, making it more important to focus on the people in front of you.
5. Use body language
Slow down hand gestures when speaking, as sometimes your nervousness will show through your arm and hand movements. Also, keep moving around the stage to a minimum as walking up and down will only show the audience how terrified you are.
6. Stop and pause
Never underestimate the power of a properly-timed pause to effective public speaking. This will give you time to get your bearings and the audience a chance to process your words or ask a question.
7. Include audiovisuals in your talk
How to give a good speech? Statistics show that audience engagement decreases by 14% if the presentation is bare talking, but adding facts and figures retains attention by 20%. So include some fun and relevant facts and try to incorporate them in your presentation through audio or visual media.
Be careful when using these tools, though, as too many visuals can take attention away from you—the speaker.
8. Take care of yourself
Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine (all of which can increase feelings of anxiety). Try meditation or yoga to keep your body relaxed and your nerves at bay.
9. Learn from professionals
You can find dozens of courses online dedicated to improving public speaking techniques. Sign up for one and get professional advice on how to speak in public, improve body posture and hand gestures and engage with the audience. Personal development can also help improve your image too.
You will find some of the best public speaking courses on these platforms:
- Mindvalley’s Speak And Inspire is one of the best programs you can follow to improve your conversation skills by only investing 10 minutes of your time every day.
- Udemy has 4,000+ courses that will not only show you how to speak confidently in public but also how to improve your presentation and cut down on prep time.
- Linkedin Learning offers several courses designed to help you overcome your public speaking fear and learn how to speak with confidence and ease.
- Skillshare is a fantastic platform for personal development that can provide you with the tips, techniques and tools you need to become a better public speaker—whether you are a beginner or looking for a refresher course in oratory skills.
- Masterclass is the way to go if you want to learn from the best in the business. Hosted by “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, this course will improve your communications skills in the workplace, at job interviews or even when interviewing someone on TV.
10. Practice makes perfect
The best public speakers weren’t born that way. Practise in front of the mirror, your friends and family or record yourself while speaking. This is probably one of the best and most practical tips as it will show you exactly what you sound like and what points you need to work on.
11. Believe in yourself
Constantly remind yourself that you can succeed, and the more you believe in your abilities, the more likely you are to make that happen.
12. Get professional help
Glossophobia is a type of social anxiety and, as such, should be treated professionally. If you have mild feelings of stress before a presentation, it’s not an issue. However, if you find yourself feeling crippled by your phobia, it may be time to talk to a professional about how to overcome your fear of public speaking.
There you have it, the 12 best public speaking tips to help you get over your fear and help you advance in your personal and professional life.