HOW TO: Overcome Your Trepidations About Public Speaking

Read about how to overcome your fear of public speaking, as told by the IC PRSSA blog team.

By: Amy Friedlander

If I had to make a list of my top ten biggest fears, public speaking would definitely be at the very top. I am not alone in this; in fact, glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is considered the number one phobia amongst humans, scoring higher than the fear of death. Therefore, since public speaking is so prevalent in college and in the workplace, and nearly 75% of the population are fearful of speaking in front of others, a “how to” discussing the best ways to overcome this fear seemed fitting.


Public speaking is such an invaluable skill that is needed in various circumstances. It is one of the most important skills necessary to secure a job because the interview alone rests on one’s ability to articulate his/her attributes and how he/she can positively contribute to the company. The biggest problem with public speaking is that it’s primarily mental; for example, you could be extremely prepared and know the subject matter like the back of your hand, but if you’re very nervous, it’s possible that everything you’ve prepared will go out the window.

Last semester I was enrolled in the course Communication in Organizations, which focused on developing the skills necessary to approach organizational communication situations. One of the main areas of study was public speaking and there were a total of two speeches that had to be made during the course of the semester. The professor recorded the first speech, and each student had to make an appointment to watch it with her to go over the strengths and weaknesses of the delivery. My professor’s remarks included that I was monotone, had no emotions, and rarely made eye contact with the audience. So basically, my delivery was horrible; however, she told me that my content and research was excellent. Without ­­­­the proper communication skills, it is very difficult to be successful in getting a point across and persuading the audience.

When I envision successful communicators and public speakers, I envision the people who conduct TED talks and how they are always so poised and do not show any signs of nervousness. However, various speakers have admitted to being extremely nervous and have worked through their nerves to come across to the audience as very composed.

Listed below are 8 helpful tips and suggestions that can improve your public speaking skills and help tame your nerves!

  1. Admit that you’re nervous
    • If you try to hide your nerves, it can actually make you more self conscious and anxious
    • Telling the audience you’re a little nervous can alleviate some of the stress in certain situations like a classroom setting
    • It takes the pressure off of you
  2. Plan appropriately
    • Be familiar with the structure of your presentation, whether it be an interactive speech or a persuasive pitch
    • You may want to start with an alarming statistic or a general question that will grab the attention of your audience
  3. Practice!
    • Practicing greatly increases confidence levels
    • Practice in front of other people to get used to it
    • Give yourself a good amount of time to practice before the actual presentation
  4. Cope with nerves
    • Nerves are completely normal and you can actually benefit from them
    • By changing your mindset, your nerves can be transformed into a positive adrenalin rush
    • Focus less on yourself and more on your content and the audience
  5. Record yourself
    • The best way to see figure out your flaws is to watch yourself back
    • When I watched my speech with my professor it opened up my eyes to what I needed to specifically work on
  6. Be optimistic!
    • If you go into it thinking “this is the worst thing ever,” you are setting yourself up for failure
    • It is very unlikely to completely forget the content, so be positive!
  7. Have fun with the audience
    • If you don’t take such a serious approach, the audience will feel more comfortable as well and the overall energy will be more relaxed
  8. Be aware of your body language
    • You don’t want to overthink things, but it’s important to be conscious of your body language
    • Project your voice, stand up tall, walk around, and smile!


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