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Student Guide to Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

Sweaty palms, dry mouth. Thirty pairs of eyes are staring at you. Your mind goes blank, your heart starts racing.

Do these feelings sound familiar to you? If yes, the diagnosis is obvious – you have a fear of public speaking, just like the other 80% of people. The things get complicated if you are a student who has to deliver a speech almost every week. Actually, some students are terrified of public speaking to the point that some of them rank it higher than the fear of death. You can’t continue to allow this fear to consume you. The team of experts from is going to try to bring that down today.




What Are You Actually Afraid Of?

The fear of public speaking actually arises from two primary sources: your personality and uncertainty. Let’s start by looking at personality. The truth is that some people are more comfortable in social situations than others. There is really little that we can change when it comes to our genetic predispositions. What we can change relates to that second aspect, and that is uncertainty. There are lots of things that people are uncertain about: how their ideas will be perceived, how they will be judged, or the impression that they will make on an audience.

So, actually, students are not afraid of public speaking, they are afraid to fail at it. Why so? That kind of fear is often seen as a consequence of speaking to a group of people and then feeling embarrassed. Probably, the most common example would be reading out loud in English class, mispronouncing some words, and subsequently, let the rest of the class laughing at you.

Now, as adults, no one likes to feel humiliated. And a great example of that is falling. If you have ever fallen over as a child, you get right back up again without a second thought. But as an adult, the first thing you do if you fall, no matter how much pain you are in, is you look around and think, “Who saw me?” All of that makes us link embarrassment with public speaking.

But we have good news for students. Public speaking is something that you can get better at with a little bit of work and some tips and tricks, and a few things that you should just get out of your head.

Myths You Should Stop to Believe In

“Imagine your audience is naked”

We are more than 100% sure that you have heard that method of overcoming the fear of public speaking. But do not do that ever. The reason this myth exists is it somehow puts the audience as your adversary. And it is not true, it is the opposite. Remember that you are an expert. All these people are there to learn something from you. When you are public speaking, whether it is five people or five hundred, trust that they are on your side.

“Rehearse on your device or in front of a mirror”

It is a terrible idea. We should never see ourselves speaking. It is unnatural. What you are looking at in the mirror is never what anybody else is paying attention to. You should focus on what you are saying. So, pay attention to words. You may think, “my lip does a weird thing”, so you are going to stare and think about that imperfection all the time, but the audience is not aware of it at all. When we are rehearsing our speech, we should not see how our mouth moves or what our eyes do.

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking? Practical Tips

student delivering a speech

We have an acronym that will really help you with public speaking appearances. The acronym is “BRIEF”.

“B” stands for “Believe” in what you are saying. Oftentimes, we are asked to give speeches or presentation, and we get notes from professors, teachers, consultants, or head of the department. Spend the time and make sure you believe everything that is coming out of your mouth.

“R” is “Rehearse.” There is no exact way to rehearse your speech properly. You have to find your own. But a good standard is your text, script, or presentation should be completed two days before public speaking. So, you can rehearse in the shower or use your dog and sister (and then you are like: “I am losing you, guys, pay attention!”). Run through it twice the night before and three times the morning of.

“I” stands for “Interesting.” Trust that what you are saying is important to the people who are hearing it. As much as you have rehearsed it, this is the first time they hear it. Moreover, you are the only person who knows this information.

“E” is “Edit.” Do not try to fill time on an agenda. It is better to be informative 2-minutes speech than a 15-minutes report which no one wants to listen to.

“F” stands for “Fun”. And we do not mean top, hat, and cane, you do not have to do a show and tell jokes (unless you are good at that). Smile and enjoy the moment, everybody looks nice smiling.

Three Tips You Want to Practice Right Now

Rehearse your speech standing up. Do not rehearse chewing on a couch. Give yourself the body memory that you need to be at that moment the next day.

One great thing is to consider rehearsing in a different way. Close your eyes and see yourself delivering a perfect speech to a warm and engaging reception by your audience. Do that several times. It helps you to feel confident and gives your brain the message that you have already done it before. Your brain can’t tell the difference between something you have actually done and something that is strongly visualized or rehearsed.

Be confident and passionate about your content. It might seem obvious, but confidence and passion in your topic will excite you and stop you feeling anxious. Just consider, for example, you have a fear of public speaking, but your loved one went missing, and you are asked to do a news interview for his or her safe return. You won’t hesitate because it is something you totally passionate about and confident about the message you want to give.

And remember the main rule of a killer speech – “it should be like a skirt of a woman: long enough to cover the topic and short enough to draw the attention.”

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