Common Public Speaking Fears…and What You Can Do About It

You’ve got your own set of fears…and if any of them are related to speaking, then you’ve come to the right blog post!

Below is a fast and loose list of common public speaking fears and what you can do about it. If you have a pal who you think could benefit from this list, make sure to share this with them too.

You’re probably never going to be a perfect speaker all the time. That’s a myth. Together, let’s feel the fear…and live to feel it another day!

COMMON FEARS &
TIPS TO TACKLE THEM

Under prepared

Easy solution…just Practice + Rehearse more. BE prepared. If you don’t get much time to prepare, write down a quick outline with talking points and a few related stories. Put a lot of energy into your intro and conclusion so you can start + end with clarity.

Mindset  

This is common life issue for most any challenge, right?… How you think about fear defines the amount of control fear and criticism can control you. Find ways to shift mental focus to positive thoughts and to how you can serve other people through pushing through your fear.

Inner Critic & Negative Self Talk is amplified when we give it prime time airspace. (Try this mindset trick here.)

Feel Experienced

Say “yes” to every opportunity you get to speak in front of others. It’s through experience that you learn and get better.

Reliving Painful Speaking Memories

Let Yourself Fail. Learn from the yuckiness and come out a beastly survivor!

Try smaller scale. Hold events that are fun…and build communication skills as a group. Build confidence up.

Forgetting Everything

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” – George Jessel

Be prepared. Have mental notes, outline, stories. Look to your audience. Trust they’ll give you what you need. Learn how to improvise. Do impromptu speaking exercises on your topic.

Vibrating Body & Voice

Warm up ritual. Rehearse. Memorize the beginning 30-60 second and closing.

Boring your audience

You can’t please everyone. BUT – learn to read a room. Prepare content for them. Use stories. Use humor to reconnect with them. Move the content forward with energy and a smile.

(Here’s a satirical blog post on how to appear smarter to your audience.)

Tech problems

Rehearse in the space with your tech BEFORE. Know content well enough to give presentation w/o slides. Save in multiple places. Be ready to improvise if something goes wrong.

Pitting-Out Sweat

Wear white or black clothing to hide the wetness from sweaty armpits. Don’t eat a heavy meal or anything to spicy that day to increase the sweats. Exercise regularly to build up your sweat level (but nerves can still overcome this in some people). …Plus, you can make a joke if you pit out.

Farting

Avoid gassy foods for 1-2 days before. Then just make weird sounds with your mouth or shoe hitting the ground to cover it up… right?! Or… ignore it…or if you have to, acknowledge it when everyone is snickering. (PS Kids think this type of humor is hilarious. So, yeah, easy quick joke.)

Burping

On the day you speak, avoid fried foods, & carbonation. Control your breathing.

People looking at you

Use visuals, charts, graphics, short video clips. Have them talk to their neighbor  for a minute. Get audience interaction. You’re the leader for a few minutes.

It’s normal to have them look at you. So, be prepared. Know why you need to share the information.

If nothing else, imagine that you’ll save someone’s life by sharing the information. Shift your “me” mindset to an “others” mindset.

Not be loud enough

Practice throwing your voice across a room. Projecting…without yelling. Speaking from your diaphragm. Don’t cut off your sentences. Use your whole mouth to enunciate words

Nobody will understand what you mean

Rehearse with a mini audience. Get feedback. Ask if they follow you. Video record yourself. Make physical change (like move) when you have a content transition. Simplify.

Seeing people

Practice looking at people’s eyes when you speak in real life. Rehearse with people. (Or just take off your glasses…but it’s not always best.)

Blank Stares from your Audience

Read your audience. Maybe they’re confused….or just ate lunch. Make sure to keep your energy up, even when it feels like they’re sucking the life from you. May have to be more dramatic for a moment to wake them up. Tell a joke. Tell a story. Don’t get mad at them. Just don’t give up!

No questions for you in Q&A

Awkward silence. If you can, don’t let it stay this way. Move on. Build Q&A into your speech….then you can go right into your conclusion if they’re aren’t any…and you can end with strength. Have a few questions you can say YOU had before your talk (or before you learned what you know)…and answer 1 or 2 of those.

 

Was one of your fears on this list? At some point, perhaps all of these are a fear of yours. OR…maybe…you’re like…”Hummm, I didn’t think of that one, but NOW I’m afraid of it happening! Thanks a lot, Lindsay!!”

Here’s one more quote to wrap up the fear list: “It’s all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.” – Rob Gilbert

Don’t let your fears stop you from doing what you need to do. It’s a horrible way to live…caged by the fear of public humiliation and shame. But…start small and build up. Fear is a feeling that probably won’t completely ever go away. The more you face your fears, the more confident you will be…knowing that you can manage the butterflies that shoot about in your body.