Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
“Overcome Your Fears and Speak Effectively,” was an article published in The Toronto Sun on June 23, 2010. The article quipped about how Jerry Seinfeld joked, “Most people would prefer to be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.”
This is so true! I have had the privilege of teaching, coaching, and judging public speaking in the United States for the past 17 years. I have witnessed students vomit, start crying, pass out, and run out of the class. One time, I thought a student was having a heart attack so I called 911 (Emergency number for the US), and within 5 minutes the Los Angeles City Fire Department (Engine, and Ambulance) were parked with sirens blaring in front of my building at Los Angeles Valley College while the emergency technicians stormed into my room…. After caring for the student and diagnosing him not to be having a heart attack, the paramedic turned to me, and very professorially said, “Did you know that public speaking is the greatest fear in life? Your student is having an anxiety attack because of the speech he has to do for this class” …I could go on all day about students being scared! However, I could also go on all day about students overcoming their fears, and successfully standing up and speaking.
When a student takes the time to get proactive with managing their nerves more often than not, he or she is successful. The very first step in controlling fear – as I have told every class, and every client I have ever taught for the past 17 years — is preparation!
If you are prepared, you are still going to be nervous, but your nervousness is going to be controlled because you will be able to lean on the fact that you are prepared. Preparation equals confidence! The above mentioned Sun article reads, “Overcoming fear of public speaking requires practice.” I could not agree more.
Often public speaking is referred to as “platform speaking,” this is because one of the many different definitions for the word platform (if you have a good dictionary), is preparation! The word platform, when regarding public speaking means “to prepare on all levels.” The foundation of any successful public speakers platform is practice!
If you are prepared on all levels, and you have made your practice a priority – you will still be nervous, but you will be in control. Your nervousness will be countered with the confidence that can only be created by being prepared.