How To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking: Best Advice
How can you overcome (extreme) fear of public speaking, for example to give a presentation? “Help, I have to give a presentation!” Do you recognize symptoms of presentation anxiety in yourself, such as nerves playing up? Wondering what the causes are and how to fix it? In this article you will find the tips on how to get rid of it and present without fear of public speaking. Read further…
Guest contribution by Annet van Duren | Strategischopleiden.nl
I once had presentation anxiety …
Fear of presentation is not pleasant, I don’t have to explain that to you. But imagine that you are bothered by it and work at a training agency. An annoying combination. It happened to me …
Immediately after my studies, I started as a training developer. No problem, because you can do that safely behind your computer. Until my boss decided after a year that I was going for the group myself … while I would rather drive into a tree than have to stand in front of a group. Because I had those thoughts. But my job was at stake. So a solution was desperately needed.
How I tackled my presentation anxiety
No commercial talk here about how I am going to help you get rid of your fear of public speaking. I can’t. But I do want to share my experience with you. Why?
- Because I don’t want anyone to have that bad feeling.
- Because it gets in the way of you getting where you want to get.
- Because it bothers you, even if you don’t have to present daily.
- Because presentation anxiety is not necessary at all.
The solution was very simple for me: my colleague advised me to talk to an NLP coach. And it has helped: now I am training groups on a weekly basis in the field of development interviews.
Resolve presentation anxiety using specific techniques
So a coach helped me get rid of my presentation anxiety by means of NLP techniques. Without having to stand in front of the group. Without giving a single training I managed to get rid of my fear of speaking in two times.
How did she do that? By letting me experience how it could go, such a presentation. When things would go well. So no long conversations about where that fear of public speaking came from, about my childhood or about other trauma.
All we did was talk about what a good presentation would actually look like. And that is why you can also apply this technique yourself at home.
Tips for applying the techniques yourself at home
No time, money or feel like a coach? Then I have some tips for you to apply these techniques yourself at home:
- Suppose you had no fear of presentation: what would your presentation look like? What do the listeners see about you? Make a list of points. Do this in a positive form. So my voice doesn’t vibrate but I have a steady voice .
- Suppose your fear of presentation has disappeared and you are on a stage: how do you feel? Make a list of (positive) feelings.
- Now take one point from each list and visualize that you are presenting and these points have succeeded. Can you feel that ?
Pitfalls in the exercises
For me, this really did not work in one go. Otherwise I would have gotten rid of my fear of speaking in half an hour. The coach helped me – when I got into a trap – to get me back on the right path.
The most important pitfall is this: bringing yourself down. You do this through thoughts like ‘but I will never be able to do this, so why should I practice it?’
This is your fear that protects you. Your fear does not want something bad to happen to you, for example that you would go off like a watering can. But that fear unintentionally achieves something completely different: you are not protected, but you are in a great panic.
So put on those big pants: what if I can? What does that look like? And visualize yourself on that stage or in front of that group: you are a rock!
So rehearse it and pretend
In summary: Pretend you are on stage. You’re standing there now. Right where the presentation takes place. You can feel the stage under your feet. Pretend everything is going perfectly and rehearse that. Visualize it vividly and also feel what it is like when you are inside you.
I hope this will take you a step further in solving your presentation anxiety!
Annet van Duren is an educationalist and owner of the Strategic Training training agency. Strategic Training is specialized in training employees and managers in the field of development interviews or PDP interviews.