How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking


Do you have public speaking anxieties? Do your knees shake and your blood pressure rise during a presentation? Does your heart beat a mile a minute when you are placed in the spotlight? If so, never fear! The way to overcoming this fright is here!

The fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most common phobias in the world, with 77% of the world having some level of it. Some people turn nervous and jittery when placed in the spotlight, while others experience full-blown panic attacks at the mere thought of it. In fact, 41% of the American population say that public speaking is scarier than death.

The first step to overcoming this fear is to know the cause, and surprisingly, there is a logical reason behind it. This takes us back to the prehistoric times, when cavemen were still figuring out how to spark a flame. The world was filled with threats and humans were nowhere near the top of the food chain, so humans perceived eyes watching them as a threat, as it was very likely that they belonged to a carnivorous predator, and they were even more afraid of multiple sets of eyes, as it was extremely likely that they belonged to a whole carnivorous predator pack. Unfortunately, our brains have transferred the fear of predator eyes who would kill you to the fear of peoples’ eyes who would judge you. This is why some people feel vulnerable and anxious when they are speaking in public.

And so to speak, people placed in the spotlight are cavemen facing predators, and it is making them very vulnerable and twitchy. Like cavemen defending themselves from predators, they need to defend themselves from all the doubt and anxiousness attacking them. Your anxiety comes from the head, so a way to overshadow the doubt is to construct absolute confidence in your mind about you and your presentation. The best way to gain confidence is to prepare your speech well and practice saying it, possibly to your family or in front of a mirror. Recite to your stuffed animal if you must. If the thought of failure keeps creeping into your mind, then try denial. If you think, I can’t do this! This is going to end terribly! I should transfer schools! Then try and convince yourself that, I can totally do this! This is going to be great! I sure do love this school!

But say as soon as you mount the stage, your confidence crumbles, leaving you with a crowd, a speech, and a rather terrified heart. The first thing to do here is to calm down, and one of the ways this can be achieved is by inhaling and exhaling deeply. If you are breathing shallowly, it will result in shortness of breath and cause you to feel as if you are choking. Another way to calm down is to point your focus deeply on something else, such as a thumbtack on a wall, or a single point above someone’s head. That particular solution can also be used to create the illusion that you are making eye contact. If you have a vast imagination, then possibly you could imagine everyone in the audience as anchovies or pineapples.

Now the next time you have a presentation or a speech or anything that is putting you in the spotlight, keep in mind these things, and you will deliver your speech more easily, without your public speaking anxieties to weigh you down!