Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Overcome the Fear of Speaking in Public

“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson --

For many the fear of speaking in front of a group is overwhelming. The fear of public speaking is on top of all other fears like fear of spiders, snakes, darkness, loneliness, etc.
Fear can be your friend says Sean Hockensmith in his book Smashing the Wall of Fear. Fear communicates feelings of warnings of danger or a means of protection. If we can ask ourselves, "Will I harm myself or others by facing this fear?" If the answer is, no, then we can trust in the guidance of fear to lead us to face this fear and eventually overcoming the obstacle. That helps us to expand our comfort zone. It will also create confidence and empowerment.
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. wrote a book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. She teaches some dynamic techniques for turning fear, indecision, and anger into power, action, and love.

Going back to the fear of public speaking, my husband Paul and I have joined a local Toastmasters International Club, STANDING ROOM ONLY
( We meet twice a month for an hour to hour and a half.
Toastmasters has clear guidelines for each meeting, where we prepare speeches, have spontaneous table topics, and finally learn to give each other feedback on how we did. Each speech has a certain objective like an icebreaker where we just introduce ourselves to the group. Other objectives are how to structure the speech, how to use body language, eye contact and tone of voice, or use certain visual aides. Each speech is only 5 – 7 minutes.
These get-togethers are so much fun and very educational. For serious students there are contests and seminars for leadership training.
For those interested in Toastmasters, please visit:
For a quick guide on how to prepare a speech, please visit:

Many accomplished speakers and leaders have gone through the Toastmasters training. My favorite so far is by Mike Dooley. He speaks on: Thoughts Become Things (

Dale Carnegie (creator of the Dale Carnegie Training), wrote in his book The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Speaking, about how to develop confidence by overcoming the fear of speaking in public. First of all, he says, it is very common for people to have stage fright. Next, the uneasiness we feel when we stand in front of people will eventually help us to express ourselves better, faster and with greater intensity. Even professional speakers never lose the uneasiness completely. Finally, he mentions, that it is unusual for anybody to stand up in public and that the only cure for stage fright is to do it again and again.
We may never become public speakers, but if is helps to overcome certain fears, it’s all worth it. It is certainly a wonderful learning experience.

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