Taking Control Over Your Public Speaking Fears

When various news agencies and psychological journals compile lists of common phobias, "sociophobia" -- the fear of being judged or criticized by others -- rates high.

Public Speaking Sociophobia

Specifically, the phobia of public speaking is one terror which many people cannot shake.

"We are a gregarious and loquacious species, right up until the moment we have to open our mouths in front of a roomful of strangers," says Diane Loving, department chair of general education at Brown Mackie College Tucson.

"Day in and day in again, people actually delight in walking onto a stage (without tripping), looking out into a sea of faces (without fainting), and speaking eloquently about their topic (without forgetting how to form coherent words). And most likely, the very first thing each of them did was to overcome a fear of public speaking."

Control Your Public Speaking Sociophobia

According to Loving, the most important step to make is to know oneself, and know the topic at hand. "Public speaking isn't about trying to pretend you're a professional public speaker," says Loving. "It's about having the courage to be yourself in front of your audience."

Be willing to share personal anecdotes, interests and passion, and knowledge.

Also, focus on the key points you want to make and concentrate on delivering those points in an impactful, insightful and illuminating manner.

"Continue to remind yourself that if you didn't already possess the knowledge, you would not have been invited to present it to others," advises Loving.

Physical tactics during public speaking are also important in reducing nervousness and succeeding during a public presentation.

Loving suggests a technique called square breathing:

Breathe in through your nose, pushing your stomach out while counting to four. Hold the breath to the count of four. Breathe out through your mouth, sucking in your stomach to the count of four, then hold to the count of four.

"Deep breathing on your way to the podium will help clear your head and calm your nerves as you concentrate more on your breathing than the stares from your audience," says Loving.

Staring out into a sea of eager faces can be daunting even to the most experienced speaker.

All eyes are riveted on the speaker, so it may help to rivet your eyes elsewhere.

"You can give the appearance of making eye contact without having to look into anyone's eyes by making eye contact with your audience's eyebrows," says Loving.

"If there is a 'friendly' face in the audience, look at this person until you are comfortable enough to look at others."

While incredibly common, public speaking fears can be alleviated by keeping these few key principles in mind.

Speaking in public could soon become an invigorating and satisfying experience -- and a skill that builds communication and self-confidence.

Brown Mackie College in Tucson is one of 18 school locations of the Brown Mackie College system of schools (www.brownmackie.edu), which is dedicated to providing educational programs that prepare students for entry-level positions in a competitive, rapidly-changing workplace. Brown Mackie College schools offers bachelor's degree, associate's degree, certificate, and diploma programs in health sciences, business, information technology, legal studies and design technologies.






How to Control Your Public Speaking Fears & Sociophobias | Public Speaking Tips