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How to overcome your fear of public speaking

How to overcome your fear of public speaking

All new business owners are faced with the reality that in order to be successful, you must learn how to sell yourself with confidence to some form of audience. Whether you are pitching your ideas to investors, potential customers or addressing your in-house staff; you must be clear, professional and self-assured. In this week’s business advice for startups, we want to give you solid tips and tools that you can practice before getting ready to sell your story to the world.    

How to overcome your fear of public speaking

Have you ever stopped to research what exactly causes your fears to build when speaking in public? Glossophobia is the technical term for speech anxiety and the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. According to About Health, “Some experts estimate that as much as 75% of the population has some level of anxiety regarding public speaking.” Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone; some people fear speaking in public more than death itself.

Here are some signs that you may be experiencing some level of Glossophobia: 

  • • Intense anxiety or worry at just the thought of having to speak to a group.
  • • Avoiding specific events or situations where verbal communication is anticipated.
  • • Becoming nauseous or experiencing fight or flight reactions to having to speak in public.
  • • Physical reactions to speaking such as: dry throat, body freezing up, uncontrollable shaking, becoming a dark shade of red or sweating profusely. 

These physical, emotional and mental reactions can be cured with time, patience and practice. For more information on how to you understand your personal fears of public speaking, visit About.Com Phobias.    

Start With an Elevator Speech

For new entrepreneurs like yourself, it is advised that you begin preparing yourself to speak about your business. Start small by creating a quick and easy elevator speech a/k/a elevator pitch. A 30-second elevator speech is a clear, brief message or mini-commercial about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit an individual or a company.

When writing your script, imagine that you are sharing an elevator with your company’s perfect potential customer or client. Think about what you need to share about your business in order to get their attention and interest before they get off on their floor.

Once you have a solid script, start practicing and memorizing it whenever you can. Say the elevator pitch each morning in the mirror before you head out the door. Make a video recording of you pitching your elevator speech and make alterations based on what you see. When you feel comfortable with your speech, share it with a friend or co-worker that can give you honest feedback.    

Now that you have practiced this mini speech countless times and you are very familiar with it, our business advice for startups is taking your new script to a networking event. Networking events are great to perfect your speech and really get your toe in the water of public speaking. Usually you will be able to deliver your speech in a one-on-one interaction; making verbal communication a little more bearable. Another great takeaway from networking events is being able to communicate with strangers about what it is your business does and how you help people. Not only will you feel more comfortable about your rehearsed speech, you just might meet a great lead or even make a sale in the process.  

Preparing Yourself for a Big Speech 

Before preparing for a presentation or a speech in front of multiple individuals, remember the tools you developed while participating in your networking event(s). Treat larger group speeches or presentations as multiple one-on-one conversations. Take away the fear of performing or feeling anxious that several sets of eyes are on you. Keep reminding yourself how well you did in the one-on-one conversations and remember how it felt to succeed. 

Follow these easy steps when preparing your speech material: 

  1. 1. Know your topic, what examples you would like to discuss and the overall message you want your audience to leave with. It is said that the most important part of any speech is the introduction and the closing.
  1. 2. Separate your written speech on to several note cards so that you can better memorize your talking points. You can never prepare too much when trying to become comfortable with your speech.
  1. 3. Once you have your speech memorized, begin reciting it in front of the mirror without the note cards. Next, videotape yourself giving the speech in the clothes and accessories you plan on wearing for the big day. Ask a friend or colleague that you feel comfortable with to listen to your speech.  

The Day of Your Speech or Presentation 

You have rehearsed this big day over and over again; you’re ready, you can do this. Still need a few more tips before delivering an anxiety-free speech? Take a look at some quick things you can do to make yourself feel better the day of: 

  • • Go into the room you will be delivering your speech or presentation and become familiar with it. Being familiar with the details of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable while giving your speech.
  • • Some public speakers share that they always have a small item in their pocket or on the podium that they can grip onto. Something small like a pendant or paperclip may help you focus your energy and relieve any stresses during your speech.
  • • Take a moment before your presentation to focus on your breathing and visualize your speech from start to finish.
  • • Instead of looking your audience directly in their eyes, choose to look at the details on the rims of their eyeglasses or if a larger audience is attendance, try looking at their foreheads. However, you will have to eventually build up the courage to look at them in the eyes as eye contact is very powerful in business. 

Best of Luck On Your Next Public Speaking Opportunity! 

Our business advice for startups run weekly so be sure to come back frequently to see what new tips and tricks we have to help you grow your business. A Courteous Communications was a startup business just likes yours, back in 1986 when first opening our doors in Orlando, Florida. We know what it’s like and our 24 hour call center is here to help you in any way we can. 

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