5 tips to get over your fear of public speaking

Back in 2018, I was in an important business meeting, feeling well-prepared. Suddenly, my client asked me a question, and I completely froze.

My throat couldn’t produce a sound, nor did my mouth utter a single word during a 2-hour meeting.

I was shattered. I felt there was something wrong with me.

Twelve years had gone by since I first arrived in Australia, and I still lacked the confidence I needed to talk to people.

Two years later, I was a keynote speaker at an event in front of 500 people, just a week after I performed as a stand-up comedian at a bar for the first time in my life.

How? I had 100 lunches with 100 strangers! This experience gave me the confidence I never had.

I was a firm believer that I hadn’t been born with the ‘confidence gene’, and that it was simply not my path to speak publicly.

Fortunately, I realised that public speaking is much more of a learned skill than innate talent. With a little effort, anyone can be a great public speaker.

Here are my 5 best tips to get over your fear of public speaking and boost your confidence.

1. Preparation

As Benjamin Franklin said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Your anxiety and lack of confidence comes from the fear of the unknown. One of the best ways to be protected from them is to prepare.

When you prepare and practice your speech, the level of uncertainty decreases. You already know what is going to happen, the words you are going to use, the ideas you are going to expose, and you start feeling more confident.

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As part of your preparation, you can also arrive in advance to the venue. Familiarising yourself with the space can help you feel more comfortable.

2. Stories connect people

Did you see how I started this article? With a story!

Telling stories is the best way to connect with the audience and keep them engaged. Choose to tell stories you enjoy and that can help you create rapport in the room.

You can share as many life stories as you see fit. Ideally, include one recent experience and another one that can draw up a smile in the audience.

Stories can help you become more interesting, captivating, and memorable. It is easy to forget a monosyllabic answer, but a good story is something that makes a home in our memories.

Next time someone asks you how your weekend was, hit them with a nice story instead of going for the habitual response of “good”.

Sharing stories will help you practice and get better at storytelling.