Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

If you’re afraid of giving a presentation, that fear tends to take on a larger-than-life quality.

You may fear that everything, from your job to your family, is going to go wrong if you do a poor job with this one presentation.

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That fear really starts in your head and your heart, with what you are telling yourself about your skills.

Hear It
First of all, you want to get inside your head and think about what you’re telling yourself. 

What do you hear in your head before you go to present? Probably something negative like “don’t make a fool of yourself” or “no one wants to listen to me.”  Think about it – you are speaking to yourself in a negative voice that you would never use with a friend or family member.

Name It
I call this loud, critical (and lying) voice the Joy-Sucker because it sucks the joy and the life out of your presentation and undermines your confidence.  Others have called it the “gremlin” and creativity expert Julia Cameron calls it the “censor.” You should give it a name that resonates with you and captures the negativity of the voice. 

Replace It
Once you acknowledge the Joy-Sucker, you have to replace it with a positive mantra – a positive phrase or affirmation that you can repeat.  Something positive, like “you can do it” or “I have something worth sharing with this audience” will go a long way towards boosting your confidence and helping you access your knowledge and experience.  Practice saying this to yourself just before you present. 

Remember, These Are Just Skills
The good news is that presentation skills are just skills, which means that you can practice and improve them.  I have never met anyone – even someone who started out afraid - who could not become a competent presenter with the right practice and preparation.

So if you have a great fear of public speaking, practice hearing and naming that Joy-Sucker Voice and then replacing it with something more positive.  Combined with practice in content and delivery, you’ll be on your way to being a more confident and competent presenter.

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Gilda Bonanno's blog