By Kendall Martin
One of the hardest parts of public speaking for some people is the “social” aspect of the interaction. Even if you don’t suffer from social anxiety, facing a large meeting room full of co-workers or strangers can be overwhelming. All eyes are on you, and the pressure to perform perfectly can be stressful.
Luckily, simply practicing interactions with co-workers and strangers can help eliminate much of that pressure and allow you to relax and be yourself. Practice these exercises and be more comfortable the next time you speak publicly:
- Speak first. Start a conversation with the employee behind the register at the grocery store or mall. Initiate the small talk and focus on engaging the other person.
- Network. At work functions or parties, commit to exiting your comfort zone. Walk up to a group of people whom you don’t know and introduce yourself. The practice of exerting confidence—even when you feel none—will help you overcome a major public speaking hurdle.
- Stop hiding. It’s easy to hide behind email rather than engage face to face or over the phone, but in the end, you are losing out. Make a point of speaking in person to a co-worker with whom you normally would communicate only via email. By removing the ability to carefully think through each word you type, you are forced to practice thinking on your feet, which can help alleviate the stress of presenting publicly.
- Make eye contact. At work or on the street, smile and make eye contact with each person you pass. That practice of confidence is key to overcoming public speaking fear.
What tips do you have for overcoming the fear of speaking publicly?
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