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8 Emotionally Intelligent Ways To Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking

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Are you struggling with your fear of public speaking? Are you looking for ways to develop yourself as a speaker? You might not be a keynote speaker yet, but all speakers start as scared newbies. Read on to find out how to overcome your fears and begin the path towards confident keynoting!

If you prefer watching video content, head to our Youtube channel. We have a video on 5 tricks to overcome the fear of public speaking.

Many people can visualize it: You’re going up on stage, seeing a huge crowd in front of you. Suddenly, you start to shake. You can’t remember your speech. The world starts spinning, and you feel like you might faint. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. The fear of speaking in front of people is so common that it has been estimated to affect some 75% of the population!

Still, why do you think this happens? Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, could be defined as the state of nervousness a person feels when he/she/they are put in a position where they have to communicate ideas in front of a group of people. Not all people suffer from this, and there’s no doubt that the art of public speaking isn’t something that comes naturally to all. The ability to confidently speak in front of people is admirable, and getting there is no easy feat.

So, how do they do it, the ones who can? Don’t all speakers get scared when seeing massive crowds? The fact is that no one is born a great public speaker. Almost all speakers, even the superstars of speaking, have felt some degree of glossophobia at some stage in their careers. What great speakers have managed is that they’ve found ways to deal with this fear and beat back the paralysis that can take you over when standing on a stage in front of an expectant crowd.

Fear of public speaking symptoms

Glossophobia comes with a wide range of symptoms. Here are just a few of them:

  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Panic attacks and the feeling your throat isn’t working
  • Intense shaking of the body, especially your legs
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Vertigo
  • Chest contractions
  • Difficulty focusing your eyes
  • A humming in the ears

and so on

Where does the fear of public speaking come from?

But with the above list of symptoms, where does the fear of public speaking come from? There is no one singular answer. Some might say that it stems from a fear of the crowd’s reaction to what is said. Others might claim it is a deep-seated fear of being seen and scrutinized by a large group. Both fears may stem from childhood or develop in one’s teens, yet it is also possible that someone who gladly jumped up on stage and naturally spoke as a child ends up having glossophobia as a teen or adult. There is a mass of contributing factors that can incite glossophobia:

1. The Fear of Losing the Crowd

Having zero to low confidence in yourself is a significant reason. People tend to over-analyze and overthink what their crowd’s reaction will be or even worry that their speech may hurt their credibility. Believing in yourself is crucial, and if you can’t do this, you’re going to be in trouble. If you’re constantly worried about what people think about what you’re saying, you’re likely to project insecurity and thus lose the crowd’s interest. Thus, the fear of losing the crowd can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Somatic Response

Is your very body terrified of public speaking? If you view public speaking as a threat, your body will end up starting to take measures to keep you safe from that threat. Anxiety will kick in, hormones will release, and gradually this affects your senses. Your body may end up triggering a fight or flight response, one that may have you close to a blackout on stage. Speaking is not just an intellectual exercise but one that involves the entire body, and if your body rebels – which it might do out of a desire to protect you – you may find yourself in a place where your brain isn’t afraid, but your body makes it so.

3. Mis-Matched Skill Levels

There are many arenas for speaking, and just because you’re ready for one doesn’t mean you’re ready for the next. Speaking to your team doesn’t guarantee you’ll be prepared to speak to total strangers, and having spoken in front of 100 people doesn’t mean you won’t get paralyzed when speaking in front of an audience of a thousand. We all have our limits, and when we come up against them, glossolalia can take over. Similarly, when you speak about a topic you’re uncomfortable with, you can get taken by a deep, unsettling feat.

4. Alien Contexts

Imagine speaking in a cavern or on a base on the Moon. Seems scary, doesn’t it? We all feel that speaking is easiest when you know the room, the building, the city, and the country. The fear sets in when we don’t know any of these things. When we don’t know what people will laugh at or how the projector works, the fear of speaking gets accentuated. Being alone on a stage is bad enough. Being alone on an alien stage in an alien country can paralyze even more experienced speakers.

How do I overcome my fear of public speaking?

With all these reasons to be afraid, how can one overcome the fear of speaking? Seeing as there are so many ways speaking can go wrong, many people try to avoid it altogether. This, however, only makes the problem worse. If you don’t face it, glossophobia tends to get worse and can hamper not only your career but your life. With this in mind, here are eight (8!) tips for conquering your fear of public speaking through the principles of emotional intelligence:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice!

You can drastically increase speaking performance by practicing and planning ahead of time, even if this would be just you writing down a few bullet points. Better than that, carefully plan your slide deck and then walk through it – several times. Listen to yourself speaking, and make sure that before you go on stage, you’ve run through your speech at least three (3!) times. You might, for instance, use the Orai app, put out your “Ugly first draft,” and then look through the transcript to see where you might improve. Then, practice again. And again. And again.

2. Research, Research, Research

Make it a point of pride to study your topic as much as possible before preparing your speech. Make sure you don’t only know the supporting evidence, but also the criticisms and the alternative perspectives. Be ready for any questions, and be prepared to present alternatives. Also, ensure that you have novel examples, oddities that might make people think, and the latest studies to back up your ideas. The more insights you have, the less likely you are to get scared when going up to the present.

fear of public speaking

3. Practice Deep Breathing

A key part of glossophobia is difficulty breathing. People often gasp for air during their speeches, making them look bad in front of people. You can quickly sort this out by practicing “deep breathing,” something you can practice by taking slow and deep breaths. This will help you calm down a lot and eventually get rid of your public speaking anxiety. Check out Dominic Colenso’s breathing exercises for confident public speaking!

4. Get Organized

Far too often, people go on stage without having a clear plan for what they will do once up there. Don’t fear planning or a script. If in doubt, plan every aspect of your speech and write down what you will do once on stage. Sure, you can’t always follow a script, nor will you ever be able to deliver 100% of what you wrote down. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t organize your speech and write a script. Remember, it is much easier to be free when you have a framework, just like it is easier to improvise when you have a structure to improvise from.

fear of public speaking

5. Visualize success

You are going to pull yourself down if you think your speech is going to go wrong. Instead, focus on how good your speech will be and how many people will love it. Visualize the crowd smiling at you and hanging on to your every word. Look for the people already smiling, and keep with them. This will help you keep a calm head.

fear of public speaking

6. Concentrate on What You are Delivering

Once they see the audience, many speakers focus on them and forget about their content. Focus on a few core messages and points you want to bring across. An audience will forgive you for many things if they feel you are honest and true about trying to communicate something. Think less about style and more about whether everyone in the audience knows exactly what you’re trying to say, and your fear will dissipate.

fear of public speaking

7. Make Timing and Pausing Your Friend

Pausing for a couple of seconds isn’t a bad thing when speaking. The silence may seem like an eternity to you, but your audience will probably not even notice. Make your pauses poignant, and allow yourself time to speak your truth. Stay on message and remember to breathe in, breathe out! If in doubt, take a moment. 

fear of public speaking

8. Get Help from Peers

There is always someone better than you. Use that to your advantage. Take up activities that require you to speak up and ask for feedback. Many clubs and groups will help you out with your speech and delivery. Consulting peers is a great way to pave your path. Use the emotional intelligence of others to hone yours and to hone your speaking. Remember, we’re stronger together!

fear of public speaking


When should one consider seeking medical advice for anxiety related to public speaking?

Seeking medical advice for anxiety related to public speaking should be considered if the tips provided are ineffective despite repeated attempts. If you continue to experience anxiety despite trying various strategies, it may be beneficial to delve deeper into the causes of your anxiety and seek professional medical advice. Additionally, consulting the NHS website for more information on treatments can also guide you in making an informed decision about seeking medical help for public speaking anxiety.

Why is it recommended to record and review your speeches?

Recording and reviewing your speeches is a great way to improve your speaking skills. By doing this, you can identify areas to improve and refine your delivery. This will help you become a more confident and effective communicator.

What role do trusted friends play in providing feedback on your speech?

Trusted friends play a crucial role in providing feedback on your speech by offering a valuable and diverse perspective. By engaging with trusted friends who were part of your audience, you can gain insights that may not have otherwise been apparent. Their feedback can highlight areas of improvement, offer different viewpoints, and help you refine your message to better resonate with your audience. Involving trusted friends in the feedback process can lead to a more well-rounded and effective speech presentation.

Why is reflecting on your speech after a public speaking event important?

Analyze your speeches! Reflecting on successes, flops, and feedback helps pinpoint what worked and what didn’t. This, combined with self-recording for objective observation, equips you to identify areas for improvement and conquer your anxieties, making you a more confident and skilled speaker. Embrace the (slightly awkward) self-review for self-growth!

What is the significance of focusing on the beginning and ending of a speech for audience engagement and retention?

Hook them fast, leave them wanting more! Captivate your audience with a strong opening statement and solidify your message with a memorable conclusion. Both are crucial for grabbing attention, driving home key points, and leaving a lasting impression. Practice your opening and ending meticulously, and watch your speeches soar!

How can public speakers prepare for potential audience questions and complex issues?

Outsmart tricky questions! Craft backup slides addressing common inquiries and rehearse your responses. Visuals can also aid in explaining complex topics clearly. This extra prep boosts your confidence and equips you to handle anything the audience throws your way.

Why is knowing and understanding the audience important before giving a speech?

Speak their language! Knowing your audience unlocks the secrets to effective communication. Tailor your content, style, and humor to resonate with their preferences. This builds connection, boosts engagement, and ensures your message lands where it needs to. Speak to them, not at them!

How can public speakers be prepared for technology failures during a speech?

Don’t let tech meltdowns melt your message! Be tech-ready with video backups, offline imports, and solutions for video, clicker, or projector mishaps. Anticipate issues, have a plan B, and deliver a smooth speech – tech failures won’t stand a chance!

Should public speakers memorize their speech word for word or use a different approach?

Ditch the script. Spark the heart! Memorization stifles connection. Use a cue card with key points to guide your passion, keep it natural, and connect with your audience. Speak from the heart, not the script!

What are the four conditions identified by Scott Berkun trigger fear during public speaking?

Scott Berkun pinpoints four fear triggers in public speaking

1) Standing alone – exposed and vulnerable. 

2) Open space – nowhere to hide, feels unsafe. 

3) No weapon – defenseless and primal fear kicks in. 

4) Big audience staring – scrutiny and pressure intensify anxiety.

Why is verbal communication considered essential for one’s career?

Master your voice, master your career! Strong verbal communication isn’t just desired; it’s essential. Speak up, speak clearly, and watch your professional star rise. Confidence is key and verbal skills unlock it all. Speak your way to success!

How does the fear of being “found out” as a nervous speaker contribute to public speaking anxiety?

The fear of being “found out” as a nervous speaker contributes to public speaking anxiety by creating an additional layer of worry and stress. When individuals try to conceal their fear of public speaking, they often become preoccupied with being exposed as anxious or lacking confidence. This added pressure further intensifies their anxiety about speaking in front of an audience. In essence, the fear of being “found out” as a nervous speaker exacerbates the existing anxiety associated with public speaking, making the experience even more daunting and overwhelming.

Why do fearful speakers often ignore the audience and avoid eye contact?

Fearful speakers turn inward, not outward. Nervousness leads to flat delivery, ignoring the audience, and avoiding eye contact as a shield from potential negativity. They stay trapped in their anxious thoughts, disconnected from the audience they’re trying to connect with.

What are some common issues with talking too quickly during a speech?

Slow down, captivate! Speaking too fast robs your voice of air, sounds nervous, and confuses your audience. Use vocal variety, like musical notes in speech, to breathe, engage, and become a captivating speaker.

How does fear affect us during a speech and impact our delivery?

Fear = fast, flat speeches, missed connections, and audience disconnect. Slow down, connect, breathe, and ditch the anxiety cycle for a smoother, more impactful presentation!

What is glossophobia, and how does it differ from the common fear of speaking in public?

Glossophobia isn’t just stage fright, it’s a deep fear that cripples communication. Beyond trembling in front of crowds, it can silence people in meetings, classrooms, and even small groups. This anxiety blocks opportunities, limiting academic, social, and career possibilities. Don’t let fear hold you back!

How can preparation and experience help in overcoming the fear of public speaking?

Conquer stage fright with prep and practice! Plan your speech, even write a script, to feel secure. But don’t be afraid to improvise with your structure. Gain real-world experience by joining Toastmasters, volunteering to speak, or using VR. Practice makes perfect, and soon, you’ll be a confident and impactful speaker!

How can one relax before speaking on stage and connect with the audience effectively?

Conquer stage fright and connect with your audience! Visualize success, focus on core messages, use pauses for impact and seek feedback. Breathe, stay on track, and remember, practice makes perfect! Together, we can all be confident and impactful speakers.

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