How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking?


This post is by Davis Nguyen, a former national public speaking champion. 

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” -John Ford

I did not always enjoy public speaking. In fact, during my first presentation I froze up and was asked to take a seat. I made it a goal from that day that I would be a better public speaking. After hundreds of hours of reading, attending lessons, and practicing, I became a better speaker and even won a few awards and honors along the way.

I often get asked, “Is there a way for me to be a better speaker without having to spend so many hours practicing? I just want to give one speech.”

It is a honest question.

If you are like most people, you’ll have to give a speech at some point (or multiple points) in your life.

If you are like most people, you’re afraid to death of a thought of giving a presentation.

And if you are like most people, you don’t have countless hours each week to join an organization like Toastmasters or to practice your public speaking skills.

While I do encourage joining an organization like Toastmasters or another training program if public speaking is something you do on a regular or almost daily basis, for most people being asked to speak even once a week is rare.

If you are one of these people, you don’t want to spend 10,000 hours or even twenty hours practicing. You can still deliver a killer and memorable speech. You just need to know how to overcome the doubt you have and learn some simple techniques for effortlessly crafting a presentation.

4 Mental & Physical Hacks

Before you can give a killer speech, you have to be prepared to speak and this involves learning to overcome your fear of public speaking. Overcoming your fear of public speaking is done both mentally and physically.

1. Come prepared

Before your presentation, make sure you know what you will be talking about and that you have everything ready. Being prepared means knowing who your audience is, remembering your message, arriving early to setup and bringing everything you need with you. Make a list before you leave the house if you have to. When you know you have everything, you won’t stress out about missing something.

2. Remember the audience

Your audience is there for a reason. If you are being asked to speak, the audience wants to hear and learn from you. No one takes away part of their day, makes the time to travel to where your talk is, and spends money to get there just to hope that the speaker messes up. The audience wants you to succeed. If you need a reminder, keep saying to yourself, “They want me to succeed, so they can succeed.”

3. Breathe

Breathing will calm you down before you speak. Practice breathing before your name is called to speak.

4. Stand Up Straight

Stand up straight as you present. You will project your confidence, help with your own breathing, and allow your voice to project better.

These four things will help you overcome your fear of public speaking. Now with your actual presentation, follow these three steps.

3 Steps to Great Public Speaking

1. Have a structure

Having a structure you can always rely on will save you time when you have to craft a presentation. When I am rushed for time, I like to use this simple structure:

A) Story: I begin with a story since stories helps the audience relate to who I am, grabs their attention, and is easy for me to dive into because it is my story after all.

B) Point of the Story: After telling my story, I talk about why I chose to tell that story. My main points of the presentation.

C) Call to Action: Finally I have a call to action. If I just gave a training presentation, my call to action is for my students to implement what they just learned. If it is a motivational talk for them to leave the room feeling inspired.

2. Make it a Conversation

The easiest way to give a memorable talk is to make it conversational. If you look at the most popular TED Talks like Susan Cain’s Power of Introverts or Ken Robinson’s How Schools Kill Creativity, you’ll notice they were all personal and had plenty of stories to tell.

If you keep your presentation personal, as if you were talking to a friend, you will build a better connection with your audience, lower your own nervousness, and leave more people satisfied.

3. Ask for Feedback

After you finish with your presentation ask for feedback. What did you do right? What you could have done better?

Next time you speak, take one of those pieces of feedback into consideration and use it to improve your talk. That way, each time you speak you are getting better.

Now I’d love to hear what you think.

What has been the best advice you have received about becoming a better public speaker?