Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

January 25, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”  When Dale Carnegie first started teaching his course in 1912, little did he realize that his training would prove to be one of the best methods ever devised to help people eliminate their fears and feeling of inferiority when it comes to public speaking.  Dale Carnegie himself said, “I found that learning to speak in public is nature’s own method of overcoming self consciousness and building up courage and self-confidence.  Why? Because speaking in public makes us come to grips with our fears.”  Here are a few tips to help you quickly overcome stage fright and develop confidence in a few short weeks of practice:

  • Get the facts about fear of public speaking
  • You are not unique in your fear of speaking in public!  Carnegie estimates that almost 100% of the people who enroll in his classes suffer from the fear of public speaking when they begin their classes.
  • A certain amount of stage freight is useful.  It is nature’s way of preparing us to meet unusual challenges in our environments.
  • Many public speakers claim that they never completely lose all stage freight.  It is almost always present just before they speak, and it may persist through the first few sentences of their talks.
  • The chief cause of your fear of public speaking is simply that you are unaccustomed to speak in public.
  • Prepare in the Proper way
  • Never memorize a talk word for word.  Carnegie says, “The man who writes out and memorizes his talks is wasting his time and energy, and courting disaster. All our lives we have been speaking spontaneously.  We haven’t been thinking of words. We have been thinking of ideas.  If our ideas are clear, the words come as naturally and unconsciously as the air we breathe.”
  • Assemble and arrange your ideas ahead of time. Search your background for significant experiences that have taught you something about life, and assemble your thoughts, you ideas, your convictions, that have welled up from these experiences.
  • Predetermine your mind to success.  Lose yourself in your subject. Keep your attention off negative stimuli that may upset you.  Give yourself a pep talk.
  • Act confident.  The most famous psychologist of Carnegie’s time, William James wrote, “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”

“Overcoming fear of public speaking has a tremendous transfer value to everything that we do,” says Dale Carnegie.  Those of us who answer the challenge will find that they are a better person for having faced it.  Following the simple guidelines set forth above make conquering your fear of public speaking much simpler.  Many people find that conquering their fear of public speaking makes it easier to conquer other fears and anxieties, resulting in a much richer and fuller life.  Take action today against your fear of public speaking.  And remember the words of Mr. Carnegie when he said, “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy!”

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Philadelphia and Allentown, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Philadelphia and Allentown. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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