It is said that fear of Public Speaking is one of the biggest fears one has. Isn’t it interesting, how standing up in front of an audience causes us to shiver and tremble inside…and for some, even on the outside?
Let’s start by discussing what is public speaking? In its loose terms, I think it includes any type of speaking, that involves an audience. So that includes speaking up in a classroom, small tutorial, small meeting, as well as giving wedding speeches, special occasions speeches/emceeing and all the way to talking in front of hundreds of people. Public speaking can also include online presentations, even if you can’t see the audience.
I think for many of us, unless if we are public speakers or presenters, our public speaking audience is quite small. Yet, this will still drive fear through someone’s heart. The very thought of speaking to more than one person.
What happens when fear of public speaking strikes? There are many things that happen, and these include:
- Avoidance of public speaking itself.
- Increased heart rate, due to increased activities of the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Rapid breathing rate.
- Rapid speaking rate.
- Sweaty palms for some
- Butterflies in the stomach, meaning a churning feeling in the stomach.
- Change of colour, meaning you slowly start becoming red from neck upwards.
- Stumbling over words or getting tongue tied.
- Vocal quality changes and starts sounding higher in pitch.
- Mouth feels dry and your lips and tongue feel stuck together.
- Tightness in chest and tightness in throat
So many symptoms to deal with! It’s no wonder that some people avoid it at all cost! I do not work directly with the symptoms and fear of public speaking. There are loads of public speakers out there who teach that for a living. My main role in helping someone communicate well, is in warming up the voice before you speak. Warm Ups improve the chances of a good, resonance, steady voice, rather than a shaky, quivering one. It’s similar to the long-distance runner who starts his run after a few stretches and good running habits.
My suggestions to reduce the nerves will be:
S: Shoulder shrugs & warm ups & smile 😊
P: Postural awareness, helps with breath control
E : Engage your audience by looking at them.
A: Articulate all words, especially the last sounds of words
K: Keep it simple! Chunk information that you are presenting, so that you find it easy to