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Overcoming The Fear Factor In Public Speaking

Jun 6, 2008
You're asked to go to the front of the class to discuss the angst of Proust's literary work or to demonstrate how a pulley works. You're confident about the topic. It's the thought of speaking in front of the class that terrifies you, yet there's no escape. How to survive? Here is how.

You Can Do It

Learning public speaking is like an attempt to conquer Mt. Everest. It takes some spunk before you can speak to a crowd without quaking or freezing up. Well, it's a humbling experience to accept that you're no orator or charismatic speaker, and it takes courage to do something about it.

Eventually, after much effort at learning public speaking, you'll be ready to take on the world. You won't be lighting too many cigarettes with one of your Zippo lighters before a speaking engagement. Not anymore.

How to go about it? You have several options. Sign up with Toastmasters International, discreetly look around for speech tutors, or join a drama group. Or, you can purchase e-books on public speaking, which you can learn at home behind locked doors.

With persistence, you can beat the fear factor in public speaking. It may take a while, but people will soon notice that you're becoming a confident and lively speaker. This development will be good for your class presentations and your chances for future employment, so these should be enough motivation for you.

Speech Problems You Can Correct

Stuttering has caused millions of people to agonize over this speech disorder. People who stutter find it difficult to get the sounds out, and they end up repeating part of a word. 'Water' is 'wawawater', and they get all red when they catch knowing smiles. But with speech therapy and the support of your family, you can get past this problem.

Cluttering is the opposite of stuttering. Someone who clutters talks too fast in spurts, sounding jerky, or is simply unsure of what he or she wants to say because of the long pauses between words.

Mispronunciation - People laugh or feel awkward when they hear a public speaker mispronounce words. A structured session at the speech laboratory with a speech therapist can solve the problem.

Unnecessary fillers - If you count the number of times you say "uh" in your speech, you might be astounded at your propensity to dispense with speech fillers.

Regional accents - You shouldn't be ashamed of your regional accent, but sometimes the embarrassment caused is worse than the fear of catching a deadly virus.

Weak voice - Finding yourself repeating a word to be heard? Blame this on a small weak voice, but vocal exercises can strengthen your vocal muscles. Having a medical professional evaluate the condition can also detect serious respiratory or other ailments.

Nasal voice - You have a nasal voice if you are talking though your nose. Just pinch your nose and speak, if you have trouble releasing your voice, then you are nasal as they come.

Where to Go From Here

Get a book about public speaking and join organizations like Toastmasters and Speaking Circles. Joining a speaking group is more interesting than practicing before a mirror.

You'll meet more people and forge new friendships, learn from the experience of others, and get good advice. In the aftermath of all your struggles, you might start talking non-stop - but that is another disorder.
About the Author
Present a public speaker with Zippo lighters or a cigarette lighter case. Visit ExecutiveGiftShoppe.com for more personalized Zippo products.
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