How I Overcame the Fear of Public Speaking - and You Can Too

Let me guess. It started when you were young.

You were asked to stand in front of the classroom and recite times tables or read a book, and you were petrified.

You couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Nervous. Sweating. Heart Racing. You wished the world would open up and swallow you alive to escape the situation.

And now, years later, it’s not much different. Every time you have to speak in front of a group of people, you feel exactly like you did in that classroom.

Petrified.

It was exactly the same for me.

This fear of speaking in public haunted me for decades. Death would have been more welcome than an invitation to speak in public.

But not anymore….

I Overcame my Life-long Fear of Speaking in Public

Some time ago I spoke in front of over 300 people for 90 minutes.

It was the first time I spoke on a large stage with such a large, discerning audience.

I felt calm and confident. No nervousness. No sweat. No heart racing.

And the audience lapped it up. I even got a standing ovation at the end.

So what was the secret behind such a transformation for me?

I let go of the fear of people and of the concern of what they thought of me. Letting go of this fear allowed me to focus on some basic principles of public speaking.

You too can learn to get over your fear of being in front of people and speaking — it’s all about taking tiny steps until one day you are comfortable doing so.

If I can do it, so can you — here’s how:-

1. Be Yourself — Just Be Authentic and Genuine

The most important thing is to be you.

Just be yourself when speaking and people will get you.

You have probably heard this advice many times — and yet so many people fail at this point when they try and emulate someone else when speaking in public.

You are unique — so let the world see just how unique you are.

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” — Judy Garland

After I spoke at the event with the audience of 300 people, I received a lot of generous feedback — and most of it centred around how genuine and authentic I came across.

What they got was my passion for helping them and contributing in some way to them and the world.

And you don’t even have to be the type of high energy speaker who gets everyone high-fiving every few minutes — just be yourself.

2. Believe in Yourself — You Have So Much to Offer

You have an important message to share and you are here to contribute through your life lessons.

Everyone has a unique life story with its own challenges and triumphs and that alone makes your story worth sharing.

You too have so much to offer!

So pick out your key learnings and share them with others in an inspiring way.

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble, but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy” — Norman Vincent Peale

Believe in what you have to say and what you have to offer. Value your products and services — remember that what you share will inspire people and change their lives.

At the same time, remember that it’s only natural to be a bit nervous when you are on stage in front of a large audience.

So give yourself some slack and know that over time, this nervousness will diminish.

3. Connect with People at a Human Level

All communication ultimately is about connecting with others at a deeper level — and this is no different when speaking in public.

So speak from the heart. From your heart to theirs.

During my talk, I shared my story of how experiencing unconditional love for the first time changed my life forever at an orphanage in South India.

I ended my talk with a video of Nirvana School — and there was what felt like pin-drop silence interrupted by a couple of people in the audience sobbing away. I touched and moved them in some way.

Remember — a speech can change a life.

The key is for you to connect with others at a deeper level — and then watch the magic and miracles take place.

4. Strut Like a Peacock and Own the Stage

Always remember that you are an “expert”. You have a lot of useful information to share with your audience. You know your message and you are confident about putting it across well.

Own the stage. And shine.

Also, know that most of your audience would rather die than be in your shoes on the stage! So you have one up on them already before you have even started.

They are gagging to hear what you have to say, so strut your stage

Of course, you do have to know your stuff. But you don’t need to be a world authority either — you just need to know enough for the needs and expectations of your audience.

5. Share your Powerful Stories and Move Them to Tears

The most amazing thing about speaking in public is how through your stories you can dramatically change someone’s life.

You can inspire people to see and do things in a completely different way and you can change lives through your powerful stories.

Their life and the world will never be the same again.

People love stories — so share your stories of the ups and downs of your life — and how you overcame the sort of challenges they might face too.

Show them how they too can also overcome similar challenges to yours. Make them laugh with your stories. Even better, make them cry.

Move them to tears — and they’ll never forget you.

6. Adopt a Service Mindset and Blow Them Away

When you genuinely come from a place of wanting to contribute and help others, magic happens!

People will truly get you are there to serve — and that you deeply care about them.

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care” — Theodore Roosevelt

Looking back at my talk in front of 300 people, I remember getting into the flow about 10 minutes into my talk.

I no longer felt nervous, and my voice became more confident, as I put myself out of the picture. My deep desire to serve and contribute took over — and magic happened. At that moment, I felt the audience was enraptured by my message.

So look bring this service mentality into your public speaking.

7. Learn from Other Speakers — They Too Were Terrified Once

You’ve seen many accomplished and polished speakers on stage and wondered just how they got so good.

But they too were terrified of speaking in public once.

And now you too can get as good as them by seeing them in action and learning how they practice their craft.

You could even reach out to them and ask them for their “secrets.” They will be eager to share what they know — and pass on the mantle to you.

To start with, check out Sol Orwell’s outstanding guide 62 Tips on Crushing Pubic Speaking 

By just learning one thing from each speaker, you’ll soon build up your skills and confidence.

Take one step at a time — you just don’t know where your speaking is going to take you.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” — Dr Martin Luther King

8. Prepare and Rehearse — But Not too Much!

You know your stuff and you are confident of your presentation.

Preparation is king — so allow plenty of time to prepare and rehearse your talk. Rehearse in front of a couple of friends — and ask for critical and specific feedback. You could even practice your speech in front of a mirror.

However, do not overdo your preparation and plan every second of your talk.

Once you are on the stage, your inner wisdom will take over and you’ll be amazed at just how well your presentation will flow once you allow it to do so.

And even if you are a bag of shredded nerves before your talk, you’ll ooze with confidence a few minutes into your talk, as outlined here:-

9. Accept Help from Others — You Can Pay It Forward One Day

On your adventure towards speaking in public, be open and willing to reach out to others.

People want to help you — you simply have to ask for help.

Give them a chance to contribute to you — so be open to accepting any offers of help.

Then one day you can pay it forward to those people also wanting to learn to speak in public.

“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou

10. Speak, Speak, Speak — It’s a Life-Long Learning Journey

Once you have spoken in public, you’ll want to improve and master your craft.

Know that you can get better and better at speaking in public.

So seek out opportunities to improve your speaking and to get in front of an audience.

  • Check out Toastmasters— there’s bound to be a club local to you. This is a great way to get started with speaking in public in a supportive environment.
  • Consider joining your local debating society.
  • Ask around on social media and amongst your family, friends, work colleagues and other people in your community for speaking opportunities.
  • Let everyone know you are available for speaking in public — and share about your chosen topic.
  • So many organisations such as clubs and even schools are always looking for interesting speakers who can add value to their members.

Start with small audiences and soon you will rapidly build up your confidence and expertise to speak in front of larger crowds.

Time to Strut Your Stuff!

So there you go.

You too can speak in public.

You too can conquer your fear of speaking in front of friends and strangers.

You too can have the audience enthralled to your words.

And the best thing of all?

Your audience will be in total awe of you.

You will be doing the one thing they are so petrified about!

You may even learn to love speaking in public and sharing your valued expertise — a fun opportunity to share the best of yourself whilst making a bunch of new friends.

And making a difference to your audience.

The stage is set.

You know you can do it.

It’s time to strut your stuff — and to own your stage.

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