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Dealing with the Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking is a form of talking/speaking in front of an audience in order to influence, persuade, inform and entertain the listeners. According to Wikipedia, there are five basic elements: WHO is saying WHAT to WHOM using WHAT medium with what EFFECTS?

Each and every one of us has experienced public speaking, most of us fearing it. Fear of public speaking is called glossophobia. When the fear of public speaking occurs, the tendency is to forget some lines, or worse, the whole speech.

What causes this public speaking fear? Public speaking fear differs from person to person. Some may not have the confidence in themselves when they are the center of attention. Others probably had a traumatic experience in public before. Or they may associate another person's humiliation to themselves.

Thinking that public speaking is stressful can actually bring about anxiety to a person; hence, it brings about fear. It can also be fearful if you think you should be able to please everyone in your audience and thinking that you can control their behavior. If you have this mindset then public speaking fear is evident. Another cause that's related to the former is to think that people will be highly-critical of your performance or the speech itself. In most cases, this does not happen. In line with this, the speaker would want to have a "perfect" performance or speech, he would want to appear brilliant and experienced. If you expect too much of yourself, in such a manner that you are no longer behaving and/or acting as yourself, most likely, the audience will see that and you are more prone to mistakes.

Sometimes, a speaker has the tendency to impart a lot of information to the audience; again, to appear smart and knowledgeable, in doing so, you are putting yourself in a more complicated situation when you can just summarize everything.

If you study the fear of public speaking causes mentioned, you will see that it's all co-related to one another.

There are several ways on how to overcome fear of public speaking or "stage fright." Let us try to name a few guidelines in public speaking. First, a speaker must keep in mind that he/she does not have to be a genius to perform well. In fact the shorter and more concise you are the better. The audience won't get bored listening to a loopy speech, therefore, less criticisms, less room for mistakes. Once you're up the stage, overcome the thought that something bad will happen. Most of the time, when one thinks so much of the bad things that may occur, it becomes self-fulfilling. Do not try to make the audience behave the way you like them to. You cannot control your audience.

Make sure that you are prepared for the speech but be careful not to overdo as this is more prone to losing control once in the stage already. You should be able to commune with your speech. The idea is, know your speech by heart, learn the idea, the message it wants to convey. You don't have to memorize it verbatim.

Be familiar with the place you where you will be conducting your speech. You may also practice your speech in front of a mirror or your friends and/or family members.

It will also help if you have note cards on your hand that you can refer to during the course of your speech.

To get rid of the fear of public speaking, speak to your audience in a comfortable, conversational tone. Do not be too stiff. Keep in mind to be firm with your message but not demanding.

 
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