For most of the Americans, horror stories are not only based on zombies, vampires and the dead coming back to life. 76% of the population is scared by a simple situation that is common in the business world; an audience and an empty stage waiting for you.
Public speaking fear tops the list in the ranking of people’s phobia. It even outdoes the fear of death which is ranked as the second one. It is of that facing the audience is more daunting than any other fears, yet it seems so simple. Jerry Seinfeld made an observation stating how she read about the fear of presentation been the number one fear for an average person than death. She further says that an average person would rather be in a casket than reading the eulogy in front of an audience.
List of Top 10 Public Speaking and Presentation Fears
- Fear of questions being asked?
- Fear of speaking loud in public?
- Fear of facing the large audience?
- What are your actually afraid of?
- Worried about; how to overcome presentation fear?
- Presentation self-consciousness tension?
- Worried about past mistakes?
- How many times did you practice?
- Worried about if people will understand or not?
- What do people think of you while presenting?
How to counter Presentation and Public Speaking Anxiety?
#1 The Presentation Fears: What are we afraid of?
Dr.Judith E. Pearson, a psychiatrist who helps people overcome their phobias discovered three main presentation fears during her sessions namely:
- Fear of making mistakes during presentations
- Fear of repeating similar mistakes from previous presentations
- Fear of being the main center of attention
Gary Genard, a public speaking coach adds two more fears to the above list as gathered during his experience namely:
- The need to compare oneself to other presenters/ speakers
- The feeling of dissatisfaction with your personal presentation skills.
#2 How to Overcome Presentation Fears
The best way to overcome the fear of presentation is to approach it using different strategies according to Dr. Pearson. Sometimes we give our presentation fears so much time such that they become the only thing we are worried about. Re-framing various strategies of handling the situating can turn out to be a motivation instead of instilling presentation fears.
You can use the techniques discussed below to boost your confidence and kick out presentation fears named above.
#3 The presentation is not about you
A lot of presentation fears emerge from self-consciousness. Most people develop anxiety from comparing themselves to other people and being the center of attraction because their mind is tuned on how the audience perceives them. They tend to worry about aspects such as how they think about their movements, speech, presentation skills and mistakes you make. Such a problem can only be solved if set one sets their mind that they are doing the right things and focus on the presentation goals. The audience also has their objectives and therefore it is important that a presenter delivers the message efficiently and pleases the audience by focusing on the main message.
#4 Understanding mistakes are unavoidable
Presentation fears can develop from past experiences. It is normal to worry about mistakes done in previous presentations that might happen in the present presentations and derail them like in the past. Genard says that public speaking anxiety is a behavior we learn but it doesn’t have to be permanent. It is important for presenters to understand that some situations are beyond their control and mistakes in presentations are often inevitable. Past mistakes should help you improve your presentation skills.
#5 Practicing the presentation skill
As much as it might sounds cliché, practice makes perfect and therefore important to practice your skills before making a representation. It is vital to be familiar with your arguments and points by taking time to prepare great visuals. Also, make sure to practice your skills even when you do not have a presentation as it will give you more confidence to face the crowd and present your points.
#6 Understand your voice
You can record yourself reciting your speech from the beginning to the end, watch or listen again and again and take notes on how to make it sound better. It is an important technique where you can learn about your speaking style as well as the voice.
#7 Seeking a second’s person opinion
It is essential to give your speech to another person who can be honest and critique it. Such can be family, friends, significant other or generally a person who you trust to give an honest opinion.
#8 Attending public speaking classes
Another great way to overcome presentation fears is to seek the help of a mentor or a coach. There are a lot of non-profit groups that can help you overcome your presentation fears where speaking is practiced over and over.
#9 Make use of PowerPoint presentation
Having a PowerPoint presentation can be a great idea that can boost your confidence and bring out a perfect presentation. Keeping the audience engaged through the notes on the slides is a great way of keeping the audience focused too and gets the main and most important points.
#10 Avoid fast-talking
Talking very fast during a presentation interferes with the breathing patterns making you look anxious, panicked, and easily exposed to fear. It is important that you take your time when making a presentation, slow down in your speech as it will keep you relaxed and calm throughout.