Top Guides to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Microphone Presentations SpeechesMany surveys have shown that fear of public speaking ranks even higher than the fear of death. The perceived danger and triggered ‘fight or flight’ response is a leftover side effect from the early social development of humans (Learn more here). If you are afraid of speaking in public, you are not alone! The good news is that you can conquer this fear with a bit of practise and persistence

Personally, I was extremely nervous when I started my journey in delivering presentations. Memory training dramatically helped for longer speeches without notes and gave me a lot more confidence about not ‘blanking’. However, practise is still required to become comfortable when it comes to standing up on front of a group.

Useful sites and guides:

Check out the guide on 27 useful tips to overcome fear of public speaking from well-known motivational speaker Brian Tracy.

This article in Forbes has some valuable tips from an Entrepreneur that overcame a great fear of speaking (6 Way To Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking). Similar to many others that have faced their fear of speaking, he notes that “I still get butterflies, but it’s gotten infinitely easier”.

AnxietyCoach.com – This site may be of great help for any anxiety disorders that may be causing or worsening your fear of public speaking. The author specifically covers public speaking here.

Videos

6 Tips for Dealing with Speaking Anxiety – Video with tips, including how to Breathe, Walk, Automate Language, Set Expectations, Use of a Template, and Mantras.

A video with 3 simple tips to covercome fear of public speaking: handle uncertainty, relaxation techniques, easing into eye contact

How to deal with presentation stress and anxiety – This video gives a nice explanation of the ‘flight of fight’ response that even experienced speakers. The key is that they know how they handle their nerves rather than eliminate them.

I hope these links and resources were of benefit.

What is your biggest fear when standing up to deliver a speech or presentation?

Do you have any other suggestions?

Please leave a comment below!

How to Improve Your Public Speaking – The Action Plan

Action Plan

In this article I am going to outline an action plan that will help you skyrocket your public speaking skills.

Have you ever analyzed how your favorite public speakers concisely and powerfully deliver their points, how they hold themselves, control their tone and present their message?

You may think that they have a natural gift, but this is much more often the product of many years of practice and deliberate improvement to their performances.

1) Analyze Your Public Speaking:

Record yourself when rehearsing or delivering the speech, preferably using video.

What are the main areas of improvement that stand out to you?
Ask yourself this question for each of the following 5 points below.

Body Language – Your body language communicates a lot more to your audience than you might think. It also shows how you feel and your pinpoints your comfort level with the audience. Negative or closed body language can dull or really undermine a good speech, and can challenge your credibility as an expert in some cases. Check out this article by Gary Genard here about improving your body language while speaking.

Pause: Are you moving too quickly throughout your points? Deliberate pauses throughout your speech can really give your audience time to absorb your message. It also gives you time to think about your next points. Watch videos of some experienced public speakers. You will generally find that they use pauses very effectively to add impact to important points.

Speech tone and speed: Audiences get quickly bored, and one sure way to speed up this process is to speak in the same tone throughout your speech. Very your pitch to add a flair of the dramatic, and to help illustrate or highlight really important points of your speech.

Note: Many people greatly dislike the sound of their own voice. It’s quite normal, find out why here in an article by Kate Goldbaum.

Use of notes: Speaking without notes can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you have a lack of confidence in your memory. However, if you take up the challenge, you come across as more natural, confident, sincere, and credible. It allows you to better connect with your audience, and focus on your message, body language, and eye contact. Check out our free course which teaches you how to memorize the key points of your speeches and free you from you notes!

Hesitations: A speech filled with ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ can greatly diminish the delivery of your speech. Listen over your speech recordings and try to pin-point the most frequent parts of your speeches that you are likely to make these hesitations. If you are like me when I started speaking, the answer would be ‘every part of the speech’. After I joined my local public speaking club, I made a goal of trying to eliminate as much of these as possible. Surprisingly my speeches were almost completely free of them by my third speech.

Make it a goal, try to rehearse your speech as much as possible. When you feel like saying these ‘crutch words’, try to pause instead, which can actually add presence to your speech.

2) Seek Feedback From Others

After you have you analyzed your own speeches, try to ask a friend or colleague with more experience in speaking to try to pinpoint areas for improvement that might be in your ‘blind spot’. You could even take the plunge and join a local public speaking club, where you can get constructive and supportive feedback from more experienced speakers.

3) Make an Action Plan and Commit to Your Goals

Improving your public speaking can be a long journey that requires commitment and courage. Write out a list of your speaking goals after analyzing areas you need to work on. Break them up into manageable chunks and milestones to make them more manageable. To set goals, make them SMART (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed). Come back to your goals regularly to ensure that you are on target.

A goal could be as simple as “Introduce myself to a group” or “deliver a 2 minute speech”. It could also be as advanced as “deliver an hour long technical presentation without side notes”. Make sure to add a personal deadline for these goals, and try to think of all opportunities where you could achieve them.

4) Get as Much Public Speaking Practice as Possible

You need to start speaking on front of people in order to improve. Get yourself out there and try to find as many opportunities to speak and present as possible. You can volunteer to do extra presentations at work, start contributing more to meetings, or join a public speaking club. This may feel like a daunting challenge at first, but after a while speaking can become an enjoyable experience. Anxiety and fear is a common issue that holds many people back from improving their skills. Check out this page by David Carbonell which can help you overcome this.

5) Reflect on Your Progress and Seek Feedback Again

After you have delivered speeches and presentations. Try to make as many points about what went right and what went wrong. Be proud of your achievement and try to learn from your mistakes instead of feeling bad about them. If you can, try to continually seek the feedback of others, thought take it with a ‘pinch of salt’ if necessary.

Have you found this article helpful? What are your main goals to improve your public speaking? Leave a comment below!

5 Reasons Why You Should Join Toastmasters

5-reasons-why-you-should-join-toastmasters

Toastmasters is an organisation dedicated to helping people improve their communication and leadership skills. They have over 15000 clubs all over the world, so it is likely that there will be one close-by.

Taking the first steps to practice your public speaking and leadership skills can be daunting. However, once you take the leap, it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Here are five reasons why I believe you should join Toastmasters.

1) Very friendly and supportive environment

Clubs usually have a mix of beginners and experienced members. The Toastmasters atmosphere is extremely supportive and serves as a great sandbox environment to help members practice different elements of their speaking skills. You will meet people of all different backgrounds and ages, which you would not likely meet in other settings.

2) Quickly develop your speaking skills

I was amazed at how much my speaking skills developed within even the first three months of membership. Meetings generally run fortnightly or weekly, which means you are consistently motivated throughout the year to practise and step outside your comfort zone. Public speaking skills take time to develop, through continued work, feedback, reflection and improvement. Many people simply do not have the opportunities on practise these skills in their everyday lives. Toastmasters can be the answer to this.

3) Practice impromptu speaking

Toastmasters meetings generally include ‘Table Topics’ sessions, where the ‘Topics master’ for the evening will ask members any chosen topics on the spot. The members are then required to give a public response on this to the group. This can be exceptionally daunting the first few times, but it will skyrocket your ability to think on your feet while speaking in public.

4) Work on other leadership skills

As a member, you will eventually work towards fulfilling roles during your meetings such as speech timing, Toastmaster (meeting chairperson) and speech evaulator (giving feedback on the speech of another member). This can help build your communication and skills in a wide variety of leadership roles.

5) Become Inspired

I was amazed at how inspirational each Toastmaster club meeting was. Each member starts from a different level and tackles their fears and goals together. Meeting can have you in a whirlwind of emotions all in one, filling you with knowledge, joy, sadness, or inspiration. Observing the traits and actions of other members can really inspire you to push forward.

So what is stopping you? Most clubs allow you to show up as a guest with no obligations to sign up or speak. Guests are highly welcomed and new members serve as the lifeblood of Toastmasters clubs. Find your nearest club at the following link: https://www.toastmasters.org/Find-a-Club.

Do you have any questions? Do you think there is something I missed about the benefits of being a Toastmaster member?

If you are already a Toastmaster, please share your own experiences!

Thanks for reading!
Alan Walsh

5 Steps to Memorising the Key Points of Your Speech or Presentation

5-steps-to-memorising-the-key-points-of-your-speech-or-presentation

Speaking without notes is a great way to dramatically improve your public speaking. However, often fear and lack of confidence in one’s memory skills can hold even the most experienced speakers back from this. Here are five steps to help you achieve this.

Note: I do not recommend that you memorise speeches word for word as this can sound very cold and over-rehearsed, with the exception of some very experienced speakers and actors. It is generally much better to memorise the key points so that these can serve as cues to help you speak.

1) Organise your speech – Before you to to memorise your speech, make sure it is well structured. What are the key points and facts that you wish to get across? Eliminating unnecessary items and improving the structure of your speech can improve delivery as well as your ability to recall the key points.

2) Pick out the key points – Try to pick out only the necessary key points that will enable you to deliver the speech. Many speakers will write these on cue-cards, however you can easily memorise these using visual memory techniques.

3) Use memory techniques – Your mind works by association, paint mental pictures of what you are trying to remember, and it will be quickly committed to memory. Turn each key points into pictures in your imagination and then link them together.

E.g. You delivering a short speech about your hobbies, and you want to remember the following points: Soccer, Swimming, Travelling

You could link these together in your head… e.g. start off by imagining a soccer player kicking a ball into a swimming pool, a man overburdened by a giant travelling backpack while swimming catches the ball in the pool!

Pick an image that is personal to you. Something which will help YOU remember a point may not work for anyone else but you! Try to use:

  • Your own experiences
  • Stereotypes
  • Inside jokes
  • People or celebrities
  • …or anything that will help you remember!

Take your memory to the next level by using the simple but extremely effective Journey or ‘Loci’ technique to remember a virtually unlimited amount of information.
It is the method that almost every memory champion uses to demonstrate amazing feats of memory. Sign up to our Free Course to learn how to use this.

4) Rehearse and review – Rehearse the speech out loud as often as you can, using your your phone or video recorder if possible. Walk through the mental pictures as you are practising your speech. This will further cement the points in your memory.

5) Manage anxiety and fear on speech day – The reason we ‘blank’ is a result of the ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline response to our anxiety. Practice deep breathing and try to visualise your success. When delivering your first few speeches, you may be very nervous. However try to accept the stress, and strive to consistently improve and become more comfortable each time you speak.

If possible try to get as much practice as possible in speaking, such as through your local Toastmasters club.

Those are the 5 steps to help you speak without notes. If you have any questions or think I left anything out then please leave a comment below!

Do you have a friend or colleague that you think would benefit from practising their public speaking?Then share this article with them 🙂

Also check out my slideshare below on this:

Thanks for reading!
Alan Walsh