A fear of public speaking is something that plagues many people who must speak at events, and many people have successfully overcome this fear. If you're afraid of giving a talk, lecture, performance, or other public address, here are some ways to overcome a fear of public speaking.
Prepare Your Address Well
While a lack of preparation often isn't the main cause of a fear of public speaking, being unprepared doesn't easy any qualms that people have. If you're already afraid to address a crowd, a lack of preparation will only add to your troubles.
To avoid this compounding problem, make sure you prepare your address well. When you're confident in what you're sharing and how good your supplemental materials look, you'll be able to focus more on the act of actually speaking and not worry about whether a section of your speech makes sense or if you'll forget something.
Begin With a Small Forum
Before you're facing a crowd of thousands, first talk to a gathering of only a few people. It's much easier to address a few people if you're afraid of public speaking than it is to speak in front of large groups. You can work your way up in group size as you become more comfortable on the platform or stage.
Connect With People Before You Speak
The temptation to hide backstage or in a nearby hallway before a presentation can be strong if you have a fear of public speaking. Avoid hiding in fear, though, and spend the time before your presentation introducing yourself to people in the crowd. Try to greet at least a few people in the front row before the time to speak arrives.
As you greet people, you'll become a little more comfortable with the crowd that you'll address. The people you meet can also serve as friendly faces to focus on when you're up on stage.
Try to Engage the Audience
Speaking to a crowd is hard work even when you're comfortable in a forum. The best speakers don't do all of the work themselves, but they let the crowd carry some of the burden that comes with making a public address.
Try to engage the audience with questions that are interspersed throughout your presentation. Even if these are rhetorical questions that you follow with a pause, they'll give you a moment to breathe and gauge the crowd via their reaction.