Whenever the topic of public speaking comes up in conversation, I’m often treated to at least one story about the fear of public speaking and asked about what I think is the best cure for this fear. I explain that I’ve seen numerous “systems” ranging from e-books to hypnotic audio programs to DVDs, all of which promise to help you overcome your fear of public speaking. I’m then asked which one I recommend and I reply “none.” There is only one way to overcome your fear of public speaking and there are no books, DVDs, CDs or other electronic resources that will help alleviate that fear.
The only way to overcome that fear is to get up in front of an audience and speak. It’s that simple. Yes, books and other materials will help you improve your speaking skills and give you useful tips that will prevent your speech from being a disaster. But the only way for you to actually become comfortable speaking to groups is to actually speak to groups. There’s no way around it.
So what are your options?
There are plenty of ways to get in front of an audience and speak. Here are a few suggestions:
- Start small by giving a speech to your family at dinner time or give a talk to a small group of friends or coworkers.
- Join Toastmasters or take a public speaking class.
- Speak to service organizations such as Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis.
- Find any non-profit group that’s looking for a speaker.
- Volunteer to do a reading at your house of worship, at a wedding or at any other religious event.
- Volunteer to do a presentation at work.
- If you’re still in school or taking a course, volunteer to make a short presentation to your class.
There are numerous ways to find speaking opportunities with groups of varying sizes. So keep in mind that the more you speak to different groups, the quicker you’ll feel more comfortable doing so.