Spooked by Public Speaking? You’re Not Alone


As trick-or-treaters descend upon neighborhoods this weekend, there likely will be a fair share of miniature vampires, witches and werewolves ringing your doorbell. Sure, those costumes don’t scare us like they did when we were kids, but there is something else that inspires fear in millions of adults. It’s inescapable in most business, education and social circles. And, it eclipses even death as people’s top fear in study after study. It’s – gulp – public speaking.

Toastmasters International offers several public speaking tips. No matter the size of your audience or the nature of your presentation, you can find helpful suggestions (and maybe even take some comfort!) in the list below:

  • Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.  
  • Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words. Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected. 
  • Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers. 
  • Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.  
  • Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
  • Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.

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