By: Fay AlNajadah 

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld.

Fear is a normal feeling that all of us have. If we don’t have fear, we may put our life in danger. Can you imagine having public speaking as your number one fear ?

In fact, many people experience fear in different ways, especially in public speaking.It always depends on “ Where,Who,and Why” as I will be discussing further. I will go over the main types of fear people get when speaking in public and  some techniques to overcome them.  

The first reason of fear is your situation ( Where). The idea of where and who are your delivering your speech for can cause you fear.For some people, the stage always their number one fear.Especially if you are speaking to a large audience, you can  feel nervous. I bet I’m feeling your pain, right !! However when you talk about the same topic with a group of friends or family you will do perfectly fine.The difference is in the situation of where you are delivering (giving) your speech.To avoid fear during your presentation there is a technique called “reappraisal” ( Abrahams,2011). Reappraisal means to treat a speech as a normal conversation instead of taking it too serious.Matt Abrahams, a professor of speech communication at Stanford University, reported that to keep your speech as a normal conversation “ first, when you begin to practice, don’t stand up, and practice in front of a mirror or video camera. On the other hand, practice by sitting with a group of friends or family, and say it to them as a conversation.” (Toastmasters Magazine, 2011). Based on my experience, I’ve used  reappraisal and improvising as a technique in some of my speeches.It is nice sometimes to put yourself on the spot (Get out of your comfort zone).Whereas not everyone can handle improvising, practice makes perfect.The more you speak, the more you get used to it.Always look at public speaking as you are learning a new instrument or skill. The more you practice it the better you perform each time.

The second reason of fear in public speaking is the audience.Sometimes it’s hard to give a speech in front of people you don’t know. When you are giving a speech, don’t focus on the audience too much and what they think about your speech,because you have to do it anyway.When you act confidently, you will feel confident.To avoid fear during your presentation there is a technique called “ visualization”.Before doing any speech, visualize yourself  doing the speech. The power of visualization is similar to the idea of law of attraction ( Ask, Believe, Receive):  Ask what you really want, Believe that it’s already yours,Receive by feeling the way you will feel once it arrives.To practice the technique of visualization, you need a quiet place to relax,and calm down. What it takes is only giving yourself a moment to let the power of imagination to show you the results.Try doing it several time before the day you should deliver your speech.

The third reason of fear in public speaking is your goal. Not knowing how to accomplish the goal of your speech may cause a fear when delivering your speech.Ralph Smedley once said, “ A speech without a specific purpose is like a journey without a destination.” Before every speech ask “ What do I want to accomplish and why?” Our fear normally comes when we think of what’s happening next. To overcome this fear, there is a technique  that says “focus on the present and avoid thinking about the consequences of your actions” (Abrahams, 2011).For Instance, when you have a presentation, don’t think of what’s happening next, but think of what you are doing now and focus on it.

“Be in the Moment”.

I hope you realize that you are not alone in this journey and that fear is a normal feeling. What is more important is overcoming the things you fear. Nelson Mandela once said I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”