What to Do If You Fear Public Speaking More Than Death

Do you do any public speaking or training? If not, why? Is it because you believe there are people who are gifted in public speaking but not you? Or is it because you feel that you are not good enough in public speaking? Whatever reasons (and I call these excuses) you use to justify why you do not do any public speaking, I would still like to let you know that you can become an expert in public speaking if you choose to. Why? The short answer is that public speaking is a learnable skill.

There is a saying that no one is born smarter than the others. In fact, if you speak to anyone who is a practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, I believe he will tell you that if it is possible for the others, it is possible for you too.

Since public speaking is a learnable skill, I am going to share with you 4 tips that will help you to overcome fear in public speaking. Before I do that, I have to first acknowledge that the original ideas did not come from me. I did not invent or create anything new. Nevertheless, what is original here is my unique experience, which is what I am sharing in this article.

Tip No.1: Start small first

If you have not done any public speaking before, I can only imagine that you would freak out if I ask you to speak in front of a large group of people. There is no short cut in acquiring any skill. It takes time to practise and perfect the craft.

When I first started public speaking, I started with a small group of 5 to 10 people. The reason was that I had to create my identity as a public speaker, and this allowed me to form certain beliefs that I could become an excellent public speaker in future.

In addition, I am sure that we all make mistakes especially when we are considered beginners. Would you prefer to make mistakes in front of a smaller group or a large crowd?

After you get used to speaking to smaller groups, you can consider increasing the size of the group progressively. Take one step at a time.

Tip No.2: Control your mind

I must say that our mind has good intention for us at all times. It does not want us to feel awkward or uncomfortable whenever we are doing something new.

Here was what happened to me before. When I was on the stage, I was nervous and my inner voice suggested that I should leave the stage immediately. It did not look good on me as a speaker. Many years later, I have learnt from my mentor that I had the power to control my mind. With continuous practices, whenever my mind now suggests anything that is not useful to me in a particular situation, I will say to myself “thank you for sharing” or “shut up”. Which one you should use will be entirely up to you. Both work well for me.

Tip No.3: Have a script in front of you

From my experience, part of the reasons why some of you may fear public speaking is that you are afraid of making mistakes when giving your speech. This is especially when the subject matter is highly technical in nature.

In my case, some of my trainings involve discussing complex financial products such as derivatives and options. How do I remember all the important details and make sure that my participants understand the subject matter? The secret is to have a script in front of me so that I can follow it closely. You can consider using cheat sheet too.

Tip No.4: Have a coach to give you feedback

My last tip is for you to engage a coach who will provide you with feedback on your training or public speaking engagement. Many years ago, I thought I delivered a great training. However, my participants did not feel the same. I did not know why because i did not seek help from anyone.

Over the years, I have learnt to be humble and get some experienced coaches to sit in during my training to provide me with feedback and suggested improvement. This allows me to identify my weaknesses so that I can improve my delivery next time.

As you have seen, there is no need to be afraid of public speaking. You just need more practices and you will eventually be able to deliver the topic you are passionate about in front of a large group of audience. I hope you find my sharing insightful and use these tips in practising your public speaking skill.