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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

May 25, 2019
| Career

Why public speaking is terrifying ...and really good for you

Hate public speaking? Well, you’re not alone.

75% of people cite the fear of public speaking as one of their greatest fears, with death being a close second. 

It’s normal to be terrified of public speaking, and that’s why so many people avoid it at all costs. The real reason you’re so scared of it is that it’s unpredictable – you don’t know how the audience will respond and you’re not confident in your ability to share your message. In short, public speaking is really threatening for most of us.

75% of people cite the fear of public speaking as one of their greatest fears, with death being a close second

Psychologists say that in order to get past your fears, you shouldn’t try to cover them up. We think that covering up makes us less afraid, but that’s not the case. Instead, you need to gradually put yourself in situations that will make you braver. So, you’ll still feel the fear, but you’re now in charge of it.

Why should we get over the fear of public speaking?

Public speaking helps us to grow in various ways. It pays us back for all the discomfort that we have to face, and in a big way.

Public speaking is a powerful way to:

  • Boost your communication skills

  • Refine your ideas

  • Build social connections

  • Grow your career

  • Increase your confidence

  • Increase your network

  • Inspire others

Great public speakers are often great thinkers because they have to condense all their knowledge into smaller bites, then deliver that information in a compelling and entertaining way. It’s not easy, but then again, valuable skills never are. The good news is that even the shyest person can start their journey toward being a great public speaker by following 5 simple and easy steps.

1. Vocal warm-ups

Vocal warmups are a great way to channel those pre-performance jitters into positive adrenaline that works for you.

Here are a mix of body, breath and voice warmups that you can choose from. Tongue twisters are a fun way to warm up as well.

 Here are a few famous tongue twisters to get you started:


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if the woodchuck could chuck wood?

Does the doctor who doctors the doctor doctor the doctor the way the doctor he is doctoring doctors?

Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew

2. Be natural, and try not to read

To sound like a natural public speaker, it’s important to know your content inside and out. If you need notes or palm cards, it’s best to only put the most important points, topics and quotes on them – not the entire speech. No one likes being read to, they want to engage in a dialogue – one where you speak and they respond by leaning in, nodding, taking notes – and if you’re really good, they’ll applaud.

3. Be yourself

Let your personality shine. Don’t hold back – let your speech be quirky, awkward, funny and edgy if it reflects your style and personality. Being yourself inspires your audience to trust you, and it helps them to engage with your message more deeply. 

4. Collect feedback and tweak as you go

If you’re about to deliver your very first public speech, you should take the pressure off. No one is going to expect it to be perfect, and you shouldn’t either. Becoming a confident public speaker takes a long time, and the best speakers use their time on the podium to gauge how the audience responds to their message. Then, they’ll tweak their speech to include more of what the audience loves. It’s a process that takes time and experience, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first speech didn’t go as you hoped, or you got lost and stumbled a few times – it’s all part of the process of being a great public speaker.

5. Know what your ‘why’ is

Whether you have to speak at a presentation, a board meeting, a wedding or a competition – it’s important to know why you’re doing it. What’s the message that you want to convey? Why do you think that the message needs to be heard? How will people’s lives be different after they hear what you have to say?

There’s a scene in the movie The King’s Speech, where Prince Albert must ascend the throne in place of his brother, but there’s a problem; he has a speech impediment – a violent stutter to be more precise.

Even though King Albert insists that his issues are basic mechanical stumbling blocks, he discovers along the way that they’re manifestations of his upbringing and the limiting beliefs he holds about himself. He must rise to the occasion and take his place as king, and to do that, he has to speak and inspire his people.

So what’s your why? Dig deep and find the real reason that you must share your message. This alone will make you more compelling, engaging and relatable to your audience. Be the courageous hero who will stand up, in spite of your fear, to say what needs to be said. Because, if not you, then who?

Your remarkable life starts here.

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