Fear Of Public Speaking

By Leo Gura - January 24, 2014 | 3 Comments

A simple strategy to overcome fear of public speaking forever.

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Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org and in this quick self-help segment I am going to cover fear of public speaking. And of course what everyone wants to know is how to overcome it.

Alright, so fear of public speaking. I consider myself somewhat qualified to talk about this because I’ve been doing quite a bit of public speaking lately. It’s what I’m doing right now, in a way, even though I’m not technically in front of a large audience and just in front of the camera. But it’s basically the same skill.

When I first started shooting videos about two years ago, when I just first started experimenting shooting videos and posting them on YouTube, my videos were horrible. I was nervous. I didn’t know how to talk, how to get my thoughts across. This is still something that I’m working on.

So fear of public speaking, I think it’s the number one fear statistically. If you go and poll the whole country, it’s the number one fear that people have. Literally people would rather have a nuclear apocalypse, or a zombie apocalypse, then have to go and speak in front of a large audience.

It’s scary. Why is it scary? Because we fear embarrassment. We fear we will screw up. We fear that we will say something stupid. We fear that we’re going to freeze. In all of these fears, we feel that we’re going to be judged, ridiculed. So of course all of that is scary. And every person that you’re adding on top of that, ridicule is getting worse and worse.

The worst part of all is that you feel you’re going to get rejected, which is the fear that people are not going to like your ideas. They’re not going to like who you are. They’re not going to like your personality, your mannerisms, not want to be your friend or be associated with you. So all of those are subcomponents of the fear of public speaking.

As far as how to overcome public speaking, so we’ve gotten down the point that it’s a normal fear. Everyone fears public speaking. There’s no natural public speakers out there. Not when you start. Here’s what I discovered, because I had the same fear when I started, and I do public speaking in front of groups and a lot of people, and I find that most times, now because I practice and trained myself, it’s actually quite easy and very enjoyable. It’s not scary at all.

You Have To Practice

The trick is that you have to practice it. And that’s the problem. A lot of people around the country have so much fear about public speaking because they never do public speaking. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have fear when you do it, it just means they haven’t practiced it. Anything you haven’t practiced is going to be a little bit scary, especially when it involves these social pressures of rejection, embarrassment, and humiliation, and looking like a fool.

When you have that much social pressure on you, you’re going to be scared. That’s just part of our psychology because we grew up in a tribal community of 100 to 150 individuals back in the caveman days. At that time it was important to look out for your social standing in the tribe that you were in, the hierarchy, and so when that hierarchy was getting disrupted or you look like you’re going to make a fool of yourself or lose your status, that was actually a very real and physical threat to you, to your survival. So it’s almost coded in our genes that we become anxious when are in front of people. Something you have to get comfortable with.

On the flip-side of that, you are a natural born leader. It’s also in your genes to be a leader of people and to communicate your ideas. Because we were in those times, and there were leaders in those tribes, each one of us has that within us as well.

How To Overcome The Fear

How do you actually overcome the fear of public speaking? How did I do it?

The best, the absolute best way — this is something super practical that you can do tomorrow — is to join a Toastmasters club. Toastmasters, what that is, they don’t make toast, they make toasts. They make speeches. It’s a large, nonprofit, worldwide organization and they basically have little groups, self-organized groups, of about 10 to 30 people that meet up once a week in your city.

They do about an hour to an hour and a half meeting where they stand up and in a very friendly, casual, nonthreatening environment, they stand up and deliver a speech. The speech is usually 5 to 10 minutes long. The speech can be on many different topics, you can craft your own speech on your own topics.

You can join one of these groups, it’s called Toastmasters, you can find them at toastmasters.org. They literally have an organization in every city across the whole world. Not just that, they have multiple organizations.

I’m in Las Vegas right now as I’m shooting this video, and they have 70 Toastmasters clubs in Las Vegas alone. This is by far not that big of a city. In Los Angeles they literally have thousands of them. And in every city across the country, I don’t care how small it is, there are Toastmasters, multiples of them. You can go out there and find one that fits your schedule, fits your time, fits the type of people you like to hang out with.

Every Toastmasters club is a little bit different, has a little different vibe to it. In the end, they all follow the same script, the same kind of formula, they follow the same kind of procedures. So it’s a great opportunity to learn and get the experience of speaking out in public.

It Doesn’t Take As Long As You Think

How you ultimately get over your fear of public speaking, you just go and you do public speaking and it becomes easy. It took me about 10 to 20 speeches at a Toastmasters club to really numb down my anxiety and my fears.

The first time it was scary. The second time it was also scary. The third time was less scary. The fourth time was less scary. By the 10th, 20th time you really don’t care so much. It’s actually awesome. It’s awesome, it’s awesome, it’s awesome.

So the reason people are always afraid is because they don’t go and they don’t do this. You don’t have very many opportunities to speak in front of large audiences, or even small audiences for that matter. So when they do get that opportunity, and they have that rare occasion where they have to get up at work and give a presentation, all of a sudden you’re scared of it because it’s your first or second or third time and you haven’t done 20 speeches.

I’ll guarantee you this though, if you do 20 speeches your fear of public speaking is going to melt away, I would say, by at least 95%. And there’s 5% of fear there still. Of course if you have to go and give a speech in front of a crowd of 1,000 people there might be a new kind of fear. But you’re going to become comfortable with small groups, you’re going to become comfortable even if you’re working with groups of 10, 15, 20, 30 people pretty easily by joining Toastmasters.

It’s very cheap, it’s a very supportive environment. No one ridicules you. You get very supportive feedback, even if you give a very lame speech. They are very supportive of you because they recognize the people that go in there are scared, are nervous, and we all start that way.

Every public speaker, I don’t care how good he is today, he started off at some point in his life, whether he was older or very young, giving his first few speeches, and those first few speeches were terrifying. It just has to be that way.

The Joy Of Public Speaking

What you’re going to recognize in public speaking is that it becomes really enjoyable because once that fear melts away, what happens is that your natural voice comes through. You’re actually able to express yourself articulately and express yourself clearly and you’re able to impact people, which is the most important thing.

That’s why you’re giving that speech, that’s why you giving a presentation. Even if it seems like your boss forced you to give that presentation, he forced you to give that presentation because he wanted you to have an effect on your coworkers, your team, on the CEO, whatever. You can use your voice to have a positive influence on the world, whether it’s communicating some expertise that you’ve developed like I’m doing here, maybe it’s to inspire or motivate somebody. Maybe it’s to educate somebody. Maybe it’s a humorous speech and you want to do that that way to entertain people with your speaking.

There’s all these different facets of public speaking. You can become an expert in each one of those, and you could train each one of those in Toastmasters. I’m sure there are other organizations out there other than Toastmasters that you can get yourself to get your feet wet in speech making and speech giving.

I personally haven’t even researched that much because Toastmasters was my go-to choice. It’s so simple, it’s everywhere, it’s inexpensive. If you want to get good at public speaking there is really no reason not to go. You’re going to learn leadership skills and organization skills while you’re there and make a lot of good friends.

This is not a pitch for Toastmasters, I’m not affiliated with them other than the fact that I do go to a Toastmasters every week because I want to practice my speaking skills. So that’s how you get good. And I recommend if you are not in a position where you have to give a speech in the next week, I’d still join Toastmasters.

There are so many benefits to public speaking and being proficient at it that I encourage almost anybody to go and do 6 to 12 months of Toastmasters and just see the benefit that it has. It’s going to make you more confident, more secure. I now never have to worry about public speaking ever again. How great would that be? How cool?

Wrap Up

Okay, I’m going to wrap it up here, that’s my practical tips on how to eliminate the fear of public speaking. Please leave me your comments, I love to read them. Also go ahead and share and like this and then check out Actualized.org for more advanced personal development videos like this one.

You can sign up to my newsletter and then all the new videos I publish on a weekly basis are coming to you. Where we talk, not just about overcoming the fear public speaking, but all sorts of other fears: how to get you to break out of your shell, how to become more self expressive, get rid of your anxieties and really go out there and really live a charged kind of life and not be held back by all these fears, because who wants that?

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Anne says:

thank you for your videos, I love them.

Sudu says:

Hey Leo,

I am from India.What are your suggestions for me since we do not have such a concept back here in our country.

Mark says:

start a public speaking group yourself. invite stramgers….and practice together.

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