Fear - Public Speaking

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Did you know public speaking ranks number one on what we fear most? Right up there with the fear of dying or being eaten by a shark. Well I had a healthy fear of public speaking, and shark attacks. Ironically, I had booked Paul de Gelder as our keynote speaker for an event I was organising. While diving for the Australian Navy in Sydney Harbour, Paul was attacked by a 9ft bull shark and lost two limbs. Improvise, adapt and overcome was Paul’s mantra.

It was the night before the event, we were expecting 500 guests and the MC had a family emergency and was unable to attend. I was the next person in line to MC the event and I could not say ‘no’. I felt nervous, hot, anxious, nauseous, and I couldn't sleep. Does this sound familiar? Well here is what got me through.

My top 10 coaching tips for public speaking

1. Practice, practice and practice, really understand your content. When you know your content, you will not rely on notes or feel nervous of a complicated question from the audience.

2. Be organised. Have your presentation prepared well in advanced so you can practice, and you will be prepared if you miss you place in the slide deck.

3. Take a quiet moment before the presentation. Move away from other people to calm your nerves and do some breathing exercises.

4. Think about the barriers, what is driving this fear and how can you overcome it.

5. Visualise your successful presentation and what that looks like in fine detail.

6. Find people in the audience you know. This can help you feel supported, comforted, and make the presentation more engaging.

7. Talk more slowly, take a breath and pause when you need too. You tend to talk faster when nervous. What might feel slow is probably a pace the audience can keep up with.

8. Dress to feel good. Wear something you know looks good on you. Make sure you can breathe in the dress or shirt, you can stand comfortably in the shoes and wear clothes that don’t distract you.

9. Use other resources like video and audio content and share authentic stories as they will flow more naturally and be more memorable.

10. Get support. Join a group that offers support for people who have difficulty with public speaking. One effective resource is Toastmasters, a non-profit organization with local chapters that focuses on training people in speaking and leadership skills. Otherwise practice in front of the mirror, your partner, family or friend.

As a life coach I highly recommended Paul de Gelder's inspirational book which can be found online or as an audio book here.





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