Fear of public speaking is very normal. It is a natural response to a stressful situation, where you may feel exposed and fragile. Read the check list below to see if you feel you need help.
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Check List: Fear of public speaking
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Many people experience fear of public speaking to a greater or lesser degree. It can help you feel more confident if you prepare well and you can do this in a number of ways:
• By practising the first few lines of your presentation, so you know them by heart. This will ensure that you don’t have to think much about what to say when you are the most nervous. Getting off to a good start will give you the confidence to proceed.
• By using bullet points of what you want to say, so you don’t lose your thread. Never read a full manuscript, it is boring to listen to and you might as well provide your audience with a hand out instead.
• By doing a few relaxation exercises before you start.
You can tackle nerves in the actual situation by:
• Breathing out before you speak in order to ground yourself.
• Check your posture, especially make sure your feet are firmly planted and that your knees are supple and not over stretched (follow the posture exercise below).
• Do not begin speaking before you feel ready. Your audience can wait. A few extra seconds will seem a lot longer to you than to them. Always have a glass of water ready, in case you need to collect your thoughts at any point. If you feel nerves take over whilst you are speaking, then just breathe out or have a sip of water.
• Finally, focus on the task in hand, on what you have to say. Under normal circumstances your audience will be present, not to judge you, but to listen to what you have to say. If you focus on why you are all there, you can turn this situation into a positive experience both for you and for your audience.
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