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9 more steps to public-speaking success

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Did you know the average person ranks the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death? And yet overcoming this fear can be the key to a long and successful career. In business, it’s essential to be able to get your point across. Whether we’re giving a formal presentation to a large audience or asking our bosses for a promotion, speaking skills are essential to getting ahead in life.

Here are more nine tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking:

1. Public speaking classes

Find a great coach or mentor. There are many groups you can join to learn the art of public speaking. A group such as the non-profit Toastmasters helps people with their fear by giving them an opportunity to practice.

2. Do some exercise 

Light exercise before a presentation can get your blood circulating and send oxygen to your brain. Take a walk before a speech or do a few knee bends.

3. Use PowerPoint to your advantage 

Sometimes a PowerPoint presentation can be your best friend. It can save you if you lose your train of thought, keep your audience engaged and highlight your main points.

4. Realize that even Warren Buffett had public speaking anxiety 

Buffett got over his fears by teaching investing principles to people twice his age. He forced himself to talk to people. He practiced these skills over and over again. 

5. Sip warm or room temperature water 

Sometimes squeezing some lemon into your water helps as well. This will lubricate your throat. Try to avoid sugary beverages, which can dry out your mouth and make it harder to speak.

6. Read Eloquence in Public Speaking by Kenneth McFarland 

McFarland was known as the “Dean of American Public Speakers.” His central message, which influenced me very strongly when I began speaking publicly, was that the key to eloquence is the emotional component the speaker brings to the subject. To put it another way, the starting point of being an excellent speaker is really caring about your subject.

7. Pick a subject you really care about 

The following will help you choose a subject you really care about:

  • Find a subject that has an inordinate impact on you.

  • Have the desire to share it with others.

  • Believe that others could benefit from your knowledge.

  • Learn to speak about it from the heart.

When you speak on a topic you care passionately about, you’ll be more confident in what you say.

8. Know 100 words for every one you use.

Novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “In order to write well, you must know 10 words about the subject for every word that you write. Otherwise, the reader will know that this is not true writing.” I personally feel that in speaking you must know 100 words for every word that you speak. In other words, make sure you have a vast knowledge of your subject.

9. Focus on the material, not the audience

Focus on delivering your material in the best way possible. Don’t worry about the audience’s reaction.

I have seen businesspeople leapfrog over others in their careers by overcoming their fear of public speaking. The better you become at speaking in public, the farther you will go in your career. Write everything down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you too can banish your fear of public speaking.

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