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How do you recommend I overcome my fear of pubilc speaking?

I'm hoping that others who have also had a fear of public speaking were able to overcome it and be successful business people. I get extremely anxious when I ahve to speak at all in class, but feel very confident when working alone or communicating digitally. I'm worried this will interfer with my ability to be successful in my career. How did you overcome your fear? What advice do you have for a kid like me? #finance #financial-services #investment-management #investing #public-speaking

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Subject: Career question for you

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Luke’s Answer

Best of the Village

Hi Thu


The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is an important business skill. Indeed, it is an important life skill. Luckily, like many things in life, you have the power to change your perception and improve your skills. Asking this question may very well be your first step on the path to improvement and mastery of this skill.


There are organizations that can assist you in improving your public speaking. One such organization is Toastmasters: https://www.toastmasters.org/


Speaking from personal experience, such an organization caters to all types of people fro mall types of backgrounds. My experience was that there was a huge amount of positivity, caring and support amongst the members, each of whom is there for the purpose of improving their own skills and helping other members improve.


In a more general sense, I believe that there are certain things that you can do to help you overcome any nervousness that you may be experiencing:




  1. know your content, know your audience - the more comfortable you are in what you are speaking about and to whom you are speaking, the more relaxed you will feel.




  2. believe in the value of your message - understand that what you are saying is important and has value to the listener. Your audience wants you to be successful and to feel at ease. More often than not, your harshest critic is yourself. Equally, you can be your biggest supporter! Why not think in terms of how well you are going to perform and how much you will enjoy talking to people, rather than what could go wrong or what others might think. I can tell yo form experience that even if you make a small slip with your words, nobody is likely to care. The audience is almost always interested in you and your message.




  3. ask for feedback - feel comfortable asking others how they think you could improve, or alternatively, how well they thought you performed. Or both! You will likely be surprised that people thought you did a great job! It is also likely that you will be told regularly by other people that "I couldn't have done that" or "public speaking freaks me out!". The more feedback you receive, the more equipped you are to be in tune with your own performance and the perceptions of your audience.




  4. practice for "best practice" - this is crucial. Try searching the web or YouTube for speeches or informal talks and take note of what are the best aspects of each presenter's communication style and technique. Everybody will have their own style, their own personality. Some people will be high energy. Others will be slow and deliberate. Others still will be warm and personable. Combine the best aspects that you have seen with your own unique personality and then practice your own style. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is true, although I believe that a better way of thinking about it is that "perfect practice makes for perfect delivery".




I wish you the best of luck on your journey. If you would like to ask any follow ups, please feel more than welcome to reach out.

Thank you comment icon Be prepared in fact over prepare to speak on your subject. If you know the subject or content inside and out fear goes away. Also practice on someone, friend, spouse, dog, etc. Brad Casdorph
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Marianne’s Answer

Hi Thu,

Great question. First know that you are not alone in having a fear of public speaking. The first thing I recommend is to practice. You an practice with a friend or family member. The more you practice the easier it will be. Know the subject you are speaking about in detail. Knowing the subject you are speaking about makes it easier to talk about it. Make eye contact and focus on someone in the audience. Focusing on a friendly person in the audience will put you at ease and help you to relax. The more you do it the easier it will be. You may still be nervous at the start but you will get comfortable as you continue your talk. Good luck. You will be able to do it.

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Sri’s Answer

Hi Thu

Fear of anything is more to do with our perception of a reality than the reality itself. It has to do more with what others might think of us (especially if we are wrong) rather than if we are actually wrong. It is inherently human to want to look good at all times be it in our immediate social circle or be it in corporate circles. Once we are aware of the real reason behind fear, it is easier to address it. This fear also has a direct relationship with your confidence levels.

Coming to public speaking; I find it is be easier to speak to an audience of your family members/close friends rather than a school board meeting. This is because when you know are talking to familiar people, you know that they are not there to judge you; so you do not have to focus on "looking good / being correct" before them and focus on delivering your speech.

Extending this logic; you can address the confidence issue by the following methods:

  1. Know your subject matter in an out. Learn to deliver the subject as clearly and precisely as possible, do not beat around the bush.
  2. Write down your speech first in a long form, rewrite / abbreviate it to bullet forms (that you can transcribe into a cheat sheet if needed)
  3. Think of yourself as the audience and re-imagine what you would like to hear and in what manner. Accordingly tweak your message
  4. Prepare the same speech in 3 versions.
  • Long form (if needed with slides/ audio visual aids) for a formal presentation / classroom setting
  • Short form - as a crisp update in a setting where you do not have much time
  • Elevator pitch: Major points in a condensed form that you can deliver in less than a minute, especially when you meet somebody in the hallway and you want them to walkaway with the gist

5. Practice a few times, if need be before a mirror or before a close friend and ask them for a feedback. Record yourself using a video camera, you will notice areas for improvement (Remember you are often your harshest critic)

6. Volunteer in your social circles to give speeches, e.g. movie reviews or some other topics of interest. Once you come back from vacation, give a speech about your vacation to your extended friends.

7. Join organizations like Toastmasters or a local debate club

Hope this was helpful

Best Wishes

Sri K

Sri recommends the following next steps:

Join Toastmasters
Thank you comment icon Hi Thu, I agree with Sri's advice to join toastmasters. You'll find like-minded and supportive speakers and will be able to practice speaking both on prepared topics as well as practice thinking and speaking on your feet in response to spontaneous topics. The way the programs are structured, you'll receive constructive comments and encouragement from members tasked with evaluating speeches. If your school doesn't have a chapter, maybe there's an opportunity to start one! Valerie Kuscenko
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Paul’s Answer

Practice. Practice. Practice. The more you actually do it, the more you will feel comfortable. When I was in H.S. I hated it with a passion. Now that I'm an adult I have no problem speaking in front of large groups but it took time. Believe me.

Thank you comment icon I'd second Paul's comment, the more practice you get the more comfortable you'll be doing and that extra confidence will shine through. Jay Odedra
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Alexander’s Answer

Hi Thu,


my advice is to practice in front of a mirror. Also think of what you are scarred of and why? Mostly the things which yo are scarred of never happen.
Start speaking and practicing in front of your friends and family.


Also visualization is a great thing. Think of who it is to stay in front of the people you want to talk to and think of how great it is, that the people are listening to you and that you will have a great speech, just think of the great feeling which you have when you had your great speech and how thankful the people are which were listening to you.


All the best and you will do great!


Alex

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Kevin’s Answer

Practice/ repetition is key. Join a club or group that puts you in similar positions that make you uncomfortable. Practicing with strangers is easy because you won't care what they think if you mess up. Also, It doesn't really matter if you mess up because its not a professional setting and wont be held against you. After time it will become routine.
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Kristin Rymoen’s Answer

Hi there :-D


You CAN become a good speaker. I was a very shy person once... later I have been teaching in large classes, leading creative groups and made pitches to important customers. Even teacher in presentation...



  • When I realised the talk/lecture/pitch had little to do with ME, and everything to do with the content/message.. it became easier.


So: Think of your message/your topic all the time, and set up a goal for what should "land" in the receiver end.
-YOU are just a vehicle to get it said, a TOOL.


The Idea is to get your focus away from how you look or present. When you are passionate or knowledgeable on your content, people get carried away with the ideas, and will not notice details about you or your anxiousness. Most awesome speakers have some!


Give yourself some tools to stay on track: Massive preparation! The best speakers I know NEVER just do a talk like a natural. They practise... they talk their stuff loud when in the car or shower or whenever. And set time aside for it. Just to get the voice out, to make the mouth used to the words. When you've got a grip on that it just gets easier and easier. Find a private place and voice what you know to... ONE person, imaginary works fine!


Remember the RECEIVING side. You are talking to one person... not a group really. They will give attention to your content individually. And what they bring in the room vary, you might be the expert and they not, so no need to be overly smart? What do they hope to bring out of the room? What are their objectives? You adjust to that when preparing the content.


Receiving person needs time to listen! Or take notes. They need to think!
- You do not need to talk all the time...


In an ideal situation you have a set time for your presentation. Prepare short pauses. Great for both sides.
Breathe and take in.... In that time you use your visual aides to buy time and also check out the audience. Where are they... did they follow you?
Often you can find a good listener in the audience, someone with kind eyes who actually boost your confidence.
Ok, rules say make eyecontact with as many as possible, sure, but if someone gives bad vibe, focus on the boosters.


AIDES: OH/powerpoint/whiteboard/ sheets of paper and pen... also objects that are relevant for the situation. Bring a little of your "world" into class. A "thing" moves attention away from you and makes it easier to present too. Practise with those and don't use an aide you are not confident with in a real presentation. Figure what tools fits you.


Have back-ups... Don't go to presentation without an extra whiteboard-pen - or all colours of them- if they are essential to your presentation. Or chalk or whatever needed.


Make checklists of what is necessary to make a good job (like back-ups...)
and do everything you can do to complete it. Meaning nothing - up to you - is left for luck.


Thing is, if you do all this it will lower your anxiety... while you prepare, your inner voice can work on the message, and when the day come, you'll feel you will make a good presentation and get the job done...
Thats what matters.

Thank you comment icon This is the perfect advice. I really needed to hear this going into my senior year. Thank you Ms. Ellstrom! Deana
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Kevin’s Answer

Practice/ repetition is key. Join a club or group that puts you in similar positions that make you uncomfortable. Practicing with strangers is easy because you won't care what they think if you mess up. Also, It doesn't really matter if you mess up because its not a professional setting and wont be held against you. After time it will become routine.
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Arielle’s Answer

Hi Thu,
I agree with the other responses above, the only way to get over your fear of public speaking is practice, practice and more practice. Also try looking to see if a speaking class is offered at your School or a debate club. When I was in High School we had a Speech class offered which helped me to overcome my fear of speaking.


There is also Toast Masters which is an organization or club where you can practice with other individuals in the same position as you. I highly encourage you to check this out.
https://www.toastmasters.org/


Good luck to you! You will do amazing!

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Neil’s Answer

Hi Thu,


You have made a great first step by being able to identify that you need to be able to speak in public situations and that you struggle with that skill. It is very important for us to be honest about our strengths and weaknesses. The only way to overcome a fear of public speaking is to practice doing it.


I have a niece who realized the need to be able to speak comfortably in public while in high school. She decided to enter a public speaking competition to practice. You can practice public speaking on your own by looking for opportunities or you can take courses to obtain more formal instruction and have opportunities created for you. Practice makes perfect.


Good luck!

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Simeon’s Answer

Join organizations that interest you and try to land yourself some kind of leadership position. Get used to speaking in front of others for group events with people that you've gotten to know and it'll help you get used to speaking in front of people you don't know as well over time. Also, check out Toast Masters; they have a lot of resources and events that'll help you out. Being good at public speaking is a skill that we all have to work at, so don't be discouraged.
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Scott’s Answer

For overcoming fear of public speaking, you can make it easier on yourself by preparing for it as if you would prepare for any other process.


I do a lot of public speaking and always tell my team that you practice in baseball and tennis, and practice for a test. If you treat public speaking the same way, you will be prepared for the speech, and therefore remove the nerves from the process through being well prepared.


As an example, when I give presentations, for each section I prepare a big exciting headline, supporting data points, and transition statements to the next section. That way, by the time I am on stage, I am so prepared there's nothing to be nervous about.


Thank you.

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Louis’s Answer

Hi Thu,

Like many before me have said, practice! The more you know your subject comfortably, the better you will feel when speaking. Join a Toast Masters or a public speaking group and put yourselves out there, many people all had a point in their life where they dreaded public speaking, but through time and some practice they were able to overcome it! As you get more comfortable with speaking in front of an audience, refine your skills. Focus on using a visual as an aid for the audience not yourself, learn different ways to grab an audiences attention, or work on the cadence of your delivery.

One thing I will also add is with every presentation, there are Q&As. This is why it is important to know your subject very well, and be cool, calm and collected. Being able to receive a question, take a breathe, and respond with confidence makes a presentation.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Louis
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Gary’s Answer

Practice speaking in front of a mirror/family/friends before you speak in a public setting and make sure you are very familiar with what you are talking about. That way if you get nervous you still know what you are talking about in terms of subject matter. Most everyone has a fear of public speaking at some point in their life. The more you do it, the better you become at it. In the high school or college classroom most of the people listening tend to drift off and actually do not pay close attention to what you are saying. Think about your own behavior when you listen to your classmates. That helped me get comfortable and I practiced. I still do a dry run if I have a major presentation at work. I would take a Public Speaking course as early as possible and learn the tips and practices recommended in the course. It is much easier to speak about something you know so learn the material that you are presenting.

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Salma’s Answer

Practice in front of a mirror, practice with people in your home before the presentation. practice all the time.

but I know, having anxiety myself, that it's not only about the practicing, it's also about my heart jumping out of my chest when it's time for my presentation,
I found out that regulating my breath helps,
breathing from my stomach and not my chest,
and breathing in counts, this helps my heart rate slow down to normal rate again.
drink some water.
and ground yourself with grounding techniques.

Good luck.
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