Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking is considered to be the number one fear in America, surpassing the fear of death, which is fascinating to think more people would rather lay underground quietly listening than stand tall telling their story to the world.  So what is it about speaking in front of an audience that fears many to the extent they would rather keep to themselves than share their products, knowledge and inspiration to the world? Is it nerves of fearing the audience’s reaction, is it the fear of being tongue-tied, is it the fear to address a controversial topic? Read on as we address these obstacles and help you overcome the fear of public speaking, which might be holding back your success.

There are challenges in all of us, but when it comes to public speaking as an author or presenter, the faster you overcome these obstacles the sooner your self-confidence and success will develop. After all your audience depends on your voice and the content you deliver, which can be damaging if your fears overpower your abilities to deliver the right message to your audience. So take that fear away and strengthen your public speaking skills using the following strategies and tips from experts to help you overcome the challenges and fears and start sharing your message, products and inspiration today.


“You are what you think about all day long”, a quote to think about from Dr. Robert Schuller. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to public speaking as our mind often takes control of our actions, ultimately holding us back from what we could potentially be great at but never get the chance because we constantly hear that little voice up there saying, “No, I don’t think I would be good at that so I’d rather not even try.” Well, tape that voice up and just go for the new challenge. You can’t perfect something you haven’t tried.


Steven D. Cohen, instructor for the Extension School course Oral Communication in the Workplace, offers three tips to help you quell your fears:

  1. Visualize yourself succeeding. See yourself going through every step of the speech, from the walk to the stage to the applause at the end.
  2. Relax! The “t-repeater,” a breathing exercise to relieve your nerves before speaking, and easing into eye contact can help you stay calm in front of a crowd.
  3. Practice in specific ways. You don’t want to memorize the entire speech, but instead focus more on the introduction and conclusion of your presentation.


“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” – Thomas Edison

For some people speaking in front of an audience comes natural, for others it’s a work in progress. Just don’t overdue it practicing your speech, taking focus away from what’s really important which is the message on those note cards. Of course you want to prepare using notecards or taping yourself speak, but when the time nears for you to take center stage just relax and take in the moment because you have worked hard and done all you can to deliver a great speech.


On the Anxiety Coach website David Carbonell, Ph.D. shares an experiment from fearful speakers he has worked with to help them control their fear of public speaking. Try this exercise for yourself: Take two minutes to write down everything that you do in an effort to control your fear of public speaking (see sample list below).

* Read it

* Don’t look at audience

* Rush through it

* Skip portions of my talk

* Tell myself it’ll be over soon

* Imagine audience in their underwear

* Cough, pretend to have a sore throat

* Use a lot of slides

* Clench fists beneath lectern

* Keep swallowing, to make sure I can drink fluids

* Let a colleague do most of the talking

* Wear my lucky shirt

After you write down all possible fears take another two minutes to look at your list and identify exactly how you think these measures will help you overcome the fear of public speaking.

Now, as you look over the list and explanations, ask yourself which fears are most affecting your delivery, which fears can you overcome starting today. The process might be a challenge, but you need to start somewhere so pick your top 3 fears and start conquering them individually today.


If you’re looking to gain public speaking experience and willing to accept peer evaluations and feedback, look into a Toastmasters club near you. These meetings are great for beginners and even experts who are looking to gain confidence and strengthen their public speaking skills.
photo credit: ScoRDS via photopin cc