If You Have A Phobia About Public Speaking …
… then you’re suffering from ‘glossophobia’. It’s from the Greek – ‘glosso’ meaning tongue.
Fundamentally, the phobia of public speaking comes from a fear of being judged. So how can we lessen it?
First, take comfort in your expertise. You would not have been invited to speak unless you know your stuff.
Second, take confidence from your material and the preparation you have done.
Third, fearful speakers try to ‘get through’ the experience as quickly as possible. They therefore remain focused on resisting their fear and are unable to commit themselves to the role of being a speaker. So take a deep breath and do not focus on wanting to flee the situation. Tell yourself you can do that later.
Fourth, don’t imagine or think you see a crowd of people with upset faces who are all judging you. Don’t look at individuals in the audience – fix your eyeline on the back wall, just above the heads of the audience. Visualise happy faces – happy faces that are loving your speech and impressed with just how good you are. It will help you get through.
For More General Nerves …
… use a few discreet tensing and relaxing exercises. Try holding your breath for as long as you are able and then breathe out. Or take a number of slow, deep breaths which will give your brain the oxygen it needs while the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer
Take a sip of water if your mouth is beginning to dry.
Stand correctly – balance the weight of your body evenly, make sure that your feet are firmly grounded, about a body’s-width apart.
Imagine that you are delivering your presentation to an audience that is interested, enthused, smiling, and reacting positively. Cement this positive image in your mind and recall it right before you are ready to go on.
Smile – it improves the timbre of your voice and is a natural relaxant that sends positive chemicals through your body.
If you’re concerned about starting your speech with a ‘squeaky voice’, just before you start speaking, count down under your breath “3-2-1” progressively lowering your tone. Hey presto, no squeak!