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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

May 25, 2008
If your job depends on your ability to give presentations, speak during meetings and host events, coping with this fear is necessary for you to be successful. The following tips can help you become more comfortable in front of audience and give better speeches throughout your career.

How to Compose Your Speech

The first step in giving a great speech and overcoming your fears is to create an outline of the topics you want to include in the speech. An outline can contain various topics and subtopics along with stories or jokes to illustrate your points. Your outline should be in the correct order so your topics flow into each other to avoid awkward pauses.

Find out how long the speech has to be so you write one that's the appropriate length.After you complete your outline, break each topic into a separate section and fill in the information you want to include in the speech. As you write, try to imagine yourself giving the speech. This should help you become more comfortable speaking around others. Once the speech is complete, go over it to see if you want to add anything else.

Practice Your Speech by Yourself and in Front of Others

Practicing your speech is one of the best ways to overcome your fear of public speaking. Start practicing a week or more before you're scheduled to give the speech. Time the speech to make sure it's long enough. Once you've become more comfortable speaking out loud, rehearse your speech again and take note of the places where you need to take a breath, where longer pauses are necessary or places where you want to make eye contact with your audience.

You may even want to record the speech so you can listen for these pauses and breaks to make sure they're appropriate.

Practice your speech in front of friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who is willing to listen. This will help you become more comfortable speaking in front of others.

Before Giving Your Speech

The night before your speech, rehearse a few more times and then put the speech away. Enjoy a good dinner, watch a movie and relax for the evening. Try to get a good's nights rest. Even though at this point you should feel more comfortable with public speaking, you may still suffer from anxiety or nervousness, so making sure you eat a good meal and get enough sleep is important.
A few minutes before giving your speech, practice deep breathing by slowing inhaling and exhaling. This will increase air flow in the blood stream, which will reduce your heart rate and calm your nerves.
During your speech, pay attention to the places where you're supposed to take a breath or pause. This will keep you from speaking too fast. If you feel yourself talking too fast, take a deep breath and then resume your speech.

Once you've given a few speeches, your fears will begin to shrink. While you may always become nervous before giving a speech, you will be better equipped to handle your anxiety.
About the Author
Sharon Alexander is the author of the book Claim That Job - The Ultimate Job-Hunting and Career Management Guide teaching the strategies and techniques needed to manage your career in a competitive job market. http://www.claimthatjob.com. http://www.claimthatjob.com/blog.
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